Jamal Alsaady

An Examination of Maximisation: a context of innovation

University of Manchester
PhD awarded 2020

I am currently a part of PwC Canada’s core behavioral science team, working with other former researchers on large-scale problems that behavioural science looks to solve.  I generally work with large organisations across sectors, as well as government entities to apply scientific thinking and leverage behavioral science research towards solutions that aim to improve society.  Prior to this, my practitioner background centered around various operations roles in the Middle East Construction sector, whilst my academic career began with an economics focus, before becoming more focused on areas of behavioural economics and consumer psychology.

My thesis examined one of the foundational constructs across behavioural sciences disciplines, that of maximization, importantly under the context of innovation and innovation adoption.  The thesis explores the conceptual and operational challenges and gaps that have since emerged over the last 3 decades of research, and, returning to the seminal work begun in the 1950’s, employs quantitative and qualitative methods to add conceptual clarity and operational integrity back into the field of study.  A context of innovation was applied throughout to demonstrate the construct’s integrity and validity, and concluded with set of strategies and insights at enhancing and improving innovation adoption using behavioural science.

To continue, it is worth defining maximizers (in an admittedly oversimplified way) as individuals who have a heightened propensity to make the best choice (an optimizing goal) as well as employing those more likely to employ alternative search strategies (a decision strategy).  With that noted, and of particular interest to practitioners within innovation fields (especially those concerned with improving the adoption of innovations) the following findings are summarized with the aim to support these efforts.  There is a strong relationship between innovators and maximizers; that is, those most likely to adopt innovations earlier than others are also those most likely to look to optimizing their choices in their life. The vital uptake from innovators and early adopters required to overcome the too often initial market rejection may be improved by ensuring marketing communications and channels align with key maximization decision phenomena such as communicating the relative (over absolute) superiority of the innovation and providing sufficient information access (both along options and attributes dimensions) in previously identified key areas.  Furthermore, the nature of an innovation, being either utilitarian or hedonic, also strongly influences the decision pathways employed by individuals deciding to adopt or not.  Innovations more utilitarian in nature engage cognitive pathways whilst those more hedonic in nature engage sensorial pathways; both of these pathways rely on different forms of engagement in order to be of sufficient influence.  For those more concerned with the theoretical contributions, there are additions and contributions imposed on Rogers’ Innovation Decision Process on where and how optimization fits within the broad decision process, as well as more abstract philosophic discussions on what it means to be an innovator within the domains of personality psychology, decision theory, and social psychology.

During my PhD, and with large thanks to RADMA, I was able to engage in a variety of skill-building and career enhancing activities.  This included attending and presenting at key conferences (such as the European Marketing Academy Conference) and being able to take on advanced intensive research training programs (including an 8 week advanced quantitative research methods program at the University of Michigan, as part of the world-leading ICPSR) amongst other things. Since this, my bond with academia remains strong, and I am fortunate to be in an environment which embraces and fosters various research activities that were so pronounced during my PhD, ranging from engagements with think-tanks and academic institutions, to exploring opportunities and partnering with large organizations to publish on industrial research topics.

I want to thank RADMA for the generous support they provided me throughout my PhD journey.  In addition to the support that the funding provided in direct monetary terms, it also provided me with the opportunity to learn and feel supported throughout my journey; most academics will agree that intangible support systems also play a vital role in the successful completion of a PhD, and RADMA was indeed part of the support system that enabled my successful journey.