Systemic Practice and Action Research

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 219–238 | Cite as

Diagnosing Business Incubation for Social Purpose: A Viable System Model Approach

  • Khairul Akmaliah AdhamEmail author
  • Nur Sa’adah Muhamad
  • Mohd Fuaad Said
  • Shahrizin Abdul Sarhadat
  • Habib Asaril Ismail
  • Mohd Fareez Assrul Mohd Nasir
Original Paper


Business incubation is one of the means that promotes the overall business and economic growth of a particular location. However, to date, the role of business incubation as a social innovation, which has the aim to achieve concurrent development of firms, the economy and the society, is not yet understood. Using the systemic approach, specifically the viable system model (VSM) as the framework, the objective of this study is to diagnose the operation of an incubation programme that focuses on supporting business development for social purpose. This study utilized the qualitative methodology and selected an incubator, known as Kompleks Industri Makanan MARA (KIMAR), as the system-in-focus. KIMAR is a halal food industry complex established and operated by Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA); the latter a Malaysian government agency that aims to promote the socio-economic empowerment of the indigenous people of Malaysia including the Malays. Data for the diagnosis was collected through interviews with the executives responsible for the incubator operation, as well as the managers or entrepreneurs of the businesses located within it. Our analysis found cohesions among the functions of the incubator and their functionality to manage certain varieties in the environment, although more requisite varieties are needed to manage the high complexity of global halal business development. In managing these varieties, the incubation process receives financial sponsorship and other support from its social-based parent organization. The use of systems perspective highlights operational values of responsibility, long-term perspective as well as effective management of resources that drive the impact of a social incubator, thus enriches the concept of social innovation that typically focuses on the social impact of the outcome.


VSM Systemic approach Business incubation Social innovation KIMAR MARA Halal Malaysia 



The authors acknowledge the utilization of Malaysian Research Grants UPM FRGS #05-02-14-1511FR and USIM Short Term Research Grant PPP/USG-0215/FEM/30/18615 for the research’s funding. The authors also thank Ms. Saida Farhanah Sarkam, the managers and executives of KIMAR and the CID office in MARA, as well as the tenants KIMAR for their invaluable assistance and cooperation in this research.


  1. Allen DN, Rahman S (1985) Small business incubators: a positive environment for entrepreneurship. J Small Bus Manag 23(3):12–22Google Scholar
  2. Amir Hisyam R (2016) Global halal market growing bigger The New Straits Times 13 Feb. Retrieved 29 June 2016
  3. Aqilah MK, Adlinahani K (2017) KIMAR galak industri halal ke antarabangsa. Utusan Online 22 Jan. Retrieved 29 June 2017
  4. Beer S (1981) Brain of the firm, 2nd edn. WileyGoogle Scholar
  5. Beer S (1989) The viable system model: its provenance, development, methodology and pathology. J Oper Res Soc 35(1):7–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bergek A, Norrman C (2008) Incubator best practice: a framework. Technovation 28(1/2):20–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bradley AJ, McDonald MP (2011) The social organisation: the promise of social organisations. Harvard Business Press, BrightonGoogle Scholar
  8. Creswell JW (2007) Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five traditions, 2nd edn. Sage Publications, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  9. Creswell JW, Miller DL (2000) Determining validity in qualitative inquiry. Theory Pract 39(3):124–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Devine S (2005) The viable system model applied to a National System of innovation to inform policy development. Syst Pract Action Res 18(5):491–517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dodgson M, AbernathyW UJ, Acs Z, Audretsch D, Adams R et al (2018) Technological paradigms, past, present and future. Innov Manag: A Res Overview 3(6):1–7Google Scholar
  12. Espejo R, Gill A (1997) The viable system model as a framework for understanding organizations. Phrontis Limited & SYNCHO LimitedGoogle Scholar
  13. Hoverstadt P (2008) The fractal organization: creating sustainable organizations with the viable system model. Wiley, HobokenGoogle Scholar
  14. Hsu P, Shyu JZ, Yu H, Yuo C, Lo T (2003) Exploring the interaction between incubators and industrial clusters: the case of the ITRI incubator in Taiwan. R D Manag 33(1):79–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Khairul Akmaliah A (2008) Incubators within university and clustered contexts: cases of NCTU and NTHU incubators in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Asian Acad Manag J 13(1):65–92Google Scholar
  16. Khairul Akmaliah A, Hasmiah K, Rosmah M, Fatimah O, Faizah A (2015) Developing a framework for a viable Research University. Syst Pract Action Res 28(5):503–525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Khairul Akmaliah A, Saida Farhanah S, Mohd Fuaad S, Nadiah MS, Hasmiah K (2017) Monitoring of policy implementation: convergent mobile and fixed technologies as emergent enablers. Syst Pract Action Res 30(5):535–551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kimberly JR, Evanisko MJ (1981) Organizational innovation: The influence of individual, organizational, and contextual factors on hospital adoption of technological and administrative innovations. Acad Manag J 24(4):689–713Google Scholar
  19. Merriam SB (2009) Qualitative research: a guide to design and implementation, 3rd edn. Jossey-Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  20. Merriam SB, Tisdell EJ (2016) Qualitative research: a guide to design and implementation, 4th edn. Jossey-Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  21. Mohd Fuaad S, Khairul Akmaliah A, Nur Atiqah A, Hänninen S, Walsh ST (2012) Incubators and government policy for developing IT industry and region in emerging economies. Asian Acad Mana J 17(1):65–96Google Scholar
  22. Mohd Hamizar H, Nurhayati A (2016) Industri halal diperkukuh – Mustapa. BH Online 29 Feb. Retrieved 29 June 2017
  23. Mulgan G (2006) The process of social innovation. Innovations Spring 145–162Google Scholar
  24. Mulgan G (2007) Social innovation – the last and next decade. Nesta Feb 9. Retrieved 6 June 2018
  25. Mulgan G, Tucker S, Ali R, Sanders B (2007). Social innovation: what it is, why it matters and how it can be accelerated (social innovator series: ways to design, develop and grow social innovation). The Young FoundationGoogle Scholar
  26. Nur Sa’adah M, Khairul Akmaliah A (2015) Evolution of transformative social service: a case study of MARA. In: Nadar KKM, Krishnapillai G, Ng CSA, Sharmeela Banu SAT (eds.) Proceedings of the International Conference on Business, Accounting, Finance and Economics, Kampar, pp. 389–404Google Scholar
  27. Ogbechie C (2014) Social entrepreneurship: answering “the call of nature”. Emerald Emerg Market Case Stud.
  28. Poole MS, Van de Ven AH, Dooley K, Holmes ME (2000) Organizational change and innovation processes: theory and methods for research. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  29. Porter ME (1990) Clusters and the new economics of competition. Harv Bus Rev 76(6):77–90Google Scholar
  30. StartSomeGood website (2017). Retrieved 20 February 2017
  31. Tong A, Sainsbury P, Craig J (2007) Consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ): a 32-item checklist for interviews and focus groups. Int J Qual Health Care 19(6):349–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tornatzky LG, Eveland JD, Fleischer M (1990) Technological innovation: definitions and perspectives, and technological innovation as a process. In: Tornatzky LG, Fleischer M (eds) The processes of technological innovation. Lexington Books, Lanham, pp 9–25Google Scholar
  33. Tushman ML, Anderson P (1986) Technological discontinuties and organizational environments. Adm Sci Q 31:439–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Utusan Online (2017) Inisiatif MARA wujud ekosistem perusahaan halal. 21 Jan. Retrieved 29 June 2017

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Khairul Akmaliah Adham
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nur Sa’adah Muhamad
    • 2
  • Mohd Fuaad Said
    • 3
  • Shahrizin Abdul Sarhadat
    • 4
  • Habib Asaril Ismail
    • 1
  • Mohd Fareez Assrul Mohd Nasir
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Economics and MuamalatUniversiti Sains Islam MalaysiaNilaiMalaysia
  2. 2.Faculty of Economics and ManagementUniversiti Kebangsaan MalaysiaBangiMalaysia
  3. 3.Faculty of Economics and ManagementUniversiti Putra MalaysiaSerdangMalaysia
  4. 4.Majlis Amanah RakyatKuala LumpurMalaysia

Personalised recommendations