Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Renewable Natural Resources

Document Type



The wood furniture industry in Kenya has been growing rapidly despite a decline in domestic timber supply. Although most furniture is made locally, a larger share is increasingly being imported from other countries, creating competition for domestic manufacturers. The government aims at shifting most of the demand to domestic producers to protect the sector and create jobs. However, lack of innovation has been cited as the main cause of diminishing competitiveness of the sector. Studies have shown that innovation plays a key role in creating new products, improving production processes, and establishing better business systems.

Innovation in the furniture sector was deconstructed into product, process, and business systems innovations. Data was obtained using in-person interviews with managers of furniture firms in Eldoret, Kisumu and Nairobi, which are major industrial cities in Kenya. A model was then developed and used to examine the relationships between innovation constructs and demographic and management attributes of furniture firms.

The results show significant differences in product innovation between micro and medium furniture firms, and between small and medium firms. There were also significant regional differences in all innovation types. The best predictors of all innovation types were company location and rewards for innovations. Other significant predictors which were specific to innovation type are Internet use, research and development, and company size. The findings suggest the need for training workers better production skills and the use of better production technologies to improve competitiveness. They also indicate that Internet use and rewarding employees for innovations can enhance innovativeness. The study provides decision-makers with useful information on how their policies might affect innovation in furniture firms.



Committee Chair

Vlosky, Richard P.