Knowledge absorption and innovation in UK SMEs: a pilot study by place and economic sector

Marshall, Alison, Shaw, Gareth, Murphy, David, Sena, Vania, Rosiello, Alessandro, Carr, Catherine, Golra, Owais and Hickman, Stephen (2020) Knowledge absorption and innovation in UK SMEs: a pilot study by place and economic sector. In: International University-Industry Interaction Conference, 8th-11th June 2020, Online.

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Introduction: This study examined the role played by knowledge transfer and knowledge absorption mechanisms as processes in understanding rates of innovation activity in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), by place and by economic sector, within the UK.
Research design and methodology: Research was undertaken on SMEs in three economic sectors (manufacturing, high tech and services) based in four locations representing different types of local economies. In order to develop a richer understanding not only of how SMEs innovate, but also why, we chose to use a framework in which the role of absorptive capacity as a process impacting on innovation could be examined at a firm level (see Zahra and George, 2002 and Schmidt, 2005). The research used two survey instruments, a questionnaire completed by participants, followed by in-depth telephone interviews.
Results: Results of the research covered conceptualisation of innovation, approaches to acquisition, assimilation, transformation and exploitation of knowledge. Participating companies also reflected on their perceptions of enablers of and barriers to innovation. Results were analysed by place and sector.
Conclusion: As expected, innovative firms in all sectors are those able to acquire, assimilate, transform and exploit the knowledge in a constructive fashion.. However, a wide range of approaches are adopted to assimilate these activities into normal business operations. This study indicates that place alone does not play a key role, compared with the SME industry sector. This study begins to understand those SMEs who are ‘innovation followers’ and those who have sustainability orientations. Some of the SMEs studied stated clearly that they were not motivated for a desire for growth, but recognized an innovation focus was necessary for business sustainability.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Journal / Publication Title: Proceedings of the 2020 International University-Industry Interaction Conference
Publisher: UIIN
Departments: Pre June 2020 Academic Departments and Services > Research Centres > Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS)
Depositing User: Alison Marshall
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2020 12:45
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2021 11:45


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