Date of Award

Spring 3-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair


Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

H. Quincy Brown

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Heather M. Annulis

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

John J. Kmiec

Committee Member 4 School



The human capital capacity for innovation is crucial for business success. Cluster theory posits that this capacity for innovation is enhanced by industrial clustering geographic proximity. The innovative capacity is expected to be facilitated by institutions for collaboration, informal knowledge flow, short feedback loops, and collective action regimes. Research on logistics clustering has supported this supposition. Still, no research has explicitly examined whether being physically located in a logistics cluster enhances a company’s human capital capacity for innovation.

This study uses the Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach to determine the innovative operational processes involved in the diffusion of innovation within logistics and non-logistics clusters, particularly for vehicles engaged in commercial transportation use. This research conducts 18 semi-structured interviews of managers of commercial trucking companies regarding the diffusion of innovation (e.g., alternate fuels, autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things, big data/artificial intelligence) in the trucking industry. Interviews were conducted in three logistics clusters, including Memphis, Atlanta, and Dallas, and non-logistic clusters in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana. The interviews results were triangulated and compared between cluster and non-cluster regions.

The primary finding is that no noticeable difference exists regarding the diffusion of innovation in the trucking industry for companies in logistics clusters versus those not in logistics clusters. Without adequate, open, honest communication, innovation does not occur. Truck drivers want to be a part of a change in their work. Finding innovative, primarily managerial, solutions for trucker driver turnover is a common theme across all trucking companies, with turnover at greater than 100% in some companies; great focus has been directed to this issue. Although not the focus of this research design, hierarchical company structure and the number of terminal driver locations appear to influence the human capital capacity for innovation, which should be examined in future research.