Original Research

The quadruple helix model of innovation for Industry 4.0

Rigard J. Steenkamp
Acta Commercii | Vol 19, No 1 | a820 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v19i1.820 | © 2019 Rigard J. Steenkamp | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 July 2019 | Published: 03 December 2019

About the author(s)

Rigard J. Steenkamp, Department of Operations Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Science, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

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Orientation: The identity of the emerging next industrial revolution is clarified by means of a quadruple helix model. It is revealed how the fourth industrial revolution (FIR), also referred to as Industry 4.0, is underpinned by schemas much more than cyber-physical systems, the internet of things, digitisation and automatic identification technologies such as chips, sensors and internet protocols.

Research purpose: The emotional hype surrounding the FIR and the uncertainty around its identity need clarification. The purpose was to provide balancing perspectives for understanding the primary movements, management theories and sub-revolutions underpinning the emerging FIR.

Motivation for the study: The rationale of the study is to bring more clarity in a collective model of multiple complex innovation concepts.

Research design, approach and method: The study design was qualitative exploration. This implied a sequential exploratory qualitative multi-method process to obtain (1) practical case narrative data (phase A) and (2) theoretical narrative data (phase B).

Main findings: The primary movements underpinning the FIR are (1) triple management theory (TMT), (2) upscaling agility, (3) university-business cooperation (UBC) and triple helix (TH) ecosystem partnerships and (4) epochal society.

Practical/managerial implications: The exponential organisation of the future will require agile leaders who must be geared for change and personal transformation to thrive in a time of endless innovation. This study provides management with valuable insights and clarification of the complexities of innovation into a synthesised quadruple helix model of innovation for the FIR.

Contribution/value-add: The contribution of the study is also generic in terms of its contemporary value, clarifying the FIR identity and to serve as a vantage point of reference for further research.


triple helix; triple management theory; innovation; technology; quadruhelix; entrepreneurial university


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