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External linkages and product innovation in small manufacturing firms

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  • Mark Freel

Abstract

The requirement for small firms to collaborate, as a means to supplementing and complementing limited internal resources, has dominated much of the academic and policy debate on regional development and small firm innovation throughout the late 1980s and 1990s. However, relatively little empirical work has sought to look further than simple frequency enumeration - noting that the most innovative and better performing firms are generally more likely to have links with external organizations. Based upon a sample of 228 small West Midlands' manufacturers, this study considers the source, function, geography and strength of innovation-related co-operation. While the general findings point to innovators making greater use of external linkages, of certain types and in particular directions (notably the preponderance of vertical value chain linkages), the results are less emphatic than might have been anticipated. This leads to consideration of the factors contributing to and impeding joint innovation and the firms' perceptions of the impact of innovation. From this, it appears that much of the observed difference between innovators and non-innovators lies in less objective measures. The data suggest the importance of inter-personal dynamics, attitude and expectations in facilitating successful collaboration.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Freel, 2000. "External linkages and product innovation in small manufacturing firms," Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 245-266, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:entreg:v:12:y:2000:i:3:p:245-266
    DOI: 10.1080/089856200413482
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    1. Wagner, Alfred, 1891. "Marshall's Principles of Economics," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 5, pages 319-338.
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    1. Gupta, Himanshu & Barua, Mukesh Kumar, 2016. "Identifying enablers of technological innovation for Indian MSMEs using best–worst multi criteria decision making method," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 69-79.
    2. Timo Mitze & Björn Alecke & Janina Reinkowski & Gerhard Untiedt, 2015. "Linking collaborative R&D strategies with the research and innovation performance of SMEs in peripheral regions: Do spatial and organizational choices make a difference?," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 55(2), pages 555-596, December.
    3. Harald Strotmann & Andreas Koch, 2005. "Determinants of Innovative Activity in Newly Founded Knowledge Intensive Business Service Firms," IAW Discussion Papers 21, Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung (IAW).
    4. Freel, Mark S., 2003. "Sectoral patterns of small firm innovation, networking and proximity," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 751-770, May.
    5. A. Lasagni, 2011. "European SMEs, external relationships and innovation: some empirical evidence," Economics Department Working Papers 2011-EP04, Department of Economics, Parma University (Italy).
    6. Achilleas Tsamis, 2006. "Science and Technology Parks in Two Lagging Regions of Spain: A Comparative Evaluation Using an Innovation Network Approach," ERSA conference papers ersa06p443, European Regional Science Association.
    7. Ye Seul Choi & Up Lim, 2017. "Contextual Factors Affecting the Innovation Performance of Manufacturing SMEs in Korea: A Structural Equation Modeling Approach," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(7), pages 1-15, July.
    8. Justin Doran & Geraldine Ryan & Jane Bourke & Frank Crowley, 2019. "In-House Or Outsourcing Skills: How Best To Manage For Innovation?," International Journal of Innovation Management (ijim), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 24(01), pages 1-25, February.
    9. Del Giudice, M. & Scuotto, V. & Garcia-Perez, A. & Messeni Petruzzelli, A., 2019. "Shifting Wealth II in Chinese economy. The effect of the horizontal technology spillover for SMEs for international growth," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 307-316.
    10. Giacomo Marzi & Lamberto Zollo & Andrea Boccardi & Cristiano Ciappei, 2018. "Additive Manufacturing in SMEs: Empirical Evidences from Italy," International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management (IJITM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 15(01), pages 1-22, February.
    11. Lars Löfqvist, 2017. "Product Innovation In Small Companies: Managing Resource Scarcity Through Financial Bootstrapping," International Journal of Innovation Management (ijim), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 21(02), pages 1-27, February.
    12. Ezzi Ferdaws & Jarboui Anis & Zouari-Hadiji Rim, 2020. "CSR categories and R&D investment: the moderating role of Managerial emotional intelligence," Management & Marketing, Sciendo, vol. 15(1), pages 17-37, March.
    13. Colin Mason & Ross Brown, 2013. "Creating good public policy to support high-growth firms," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 211-225, February.
    14. Dragana Radicic & David Douglas & Geoff Pugh & Ian Jackson, 2019. "Cooperation For Innovation And Its Impact On Technological And Non-Technological Innovations: Empirical Evidence For European Smes In Traditional Manufacturing Industries," International Journal of Innovation Management (ijim), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 23(05), pages 1-41, June.
    15. Borooah, Vani K. & Dineen, Donal A. & Lynch, Nicola, 2009. "Language and Occupational Status: Linguistic Elitism in the Irish Labour Market," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 40(4), pages 435-460.
    16. Mariano Nieto & Nuria González-Álvarez, 2016. "Social capital effects on the discovery and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities," International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 507-530, June.
    17. Lechner, Christian & Dowling, Michael & Welpe, Isabell, 2006. "Firm networks and firm development: The role of the relational mix," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 514-540, July.
    18. Robert Huggins & Piers Thompson, 2015. "Entrepreneurship, innovation and regional growth: a network theory," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 103-128, June.
    19. Hyeon Chang Kim & Woojin Yoon, 2019. "Study On Types Of Technology Cooperation Partner And Innovation Performance: Focusing On Incremental And Radical Innovation," International Journal of Innovation Management (ijim), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 23(01), pages 1-25, January.
    20. Sunyoung Park, 2019. "Identification of Overall Innovation Behavior by Using a Decision Tree: The Case of a Korean Manufacturer," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(22), pages 1-54, November.
    21. Malesios, Chrisovalantis & De, Debashree & Moursellas, Andreas & Dey, Prasanta & Evangelinos, Konstantinos, 2019. "Review of Statistical Modeling Approaches for Sustainability Analysis of Small and Medium sized Enterprises," MPRA Paper 93028, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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