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Idea generation and open innovation in SMEs: When does market‐based collaboration pay off most?
Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden & Department of Business Administration, Santa Catarina State University, Florianópolis, Brazil.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1390-1820
Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8103-2519
Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden & Department of Management, University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3255-414X
2019 (English)In: Creativity and Innovation Management, ISSN 0963-1690, E-ISSN 1467-8691, Vol. 28, no 1, p. 113-123Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Small‐ and medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) largely depend on proficient idea generation activities to improve their front‐end innovation performance, yet the liabilities of newness and smallness often hamper SMEs' ability to benefit from systematic idea generation. To compensate for these liabilities, many SMEs adopt an open innovation approach by collaborating with market‐based partners such as customers and suppliers. This study investigates the relationship between SMEs' systematic idea generation and front‐end performance and investigates the moderating role of market‐based partnership for SMEs. Drawing on a survey of 146 Swedish manufacturing SMEs, this study provides two key contributions. First, the systematic idea generation and front‐end performance relationship in SMEs is non‐linear. Accordingly, higher levels of front-end performance are achieved when idea generation activities are highly systematic. Second, the returns from higher levels of systematic idea generation are positively moderated by market‐based partnerships. Thus, external cooperation with customers and suppliers pays off most toward front‐end performance when SMEs have highly systematic idea generation processes. These results indicate a contingency perspective on the role of external partnerships. They also have implications for research into the front‐end of innovation and open innovation in the context of SMEs. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2019. Vol. 28, no 1, p. 113-123
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-38167DOI: 10.1111/caim.12274Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85052629435OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-38167DiVA, id: diva2:1256406
Funder
VINNOVA
Note

Funding: CAPES & VINNOVA

Available from: 2018-10-16 Created: 2018-10-16 Last updated: 2019-02-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Managing the Collaborative Front End of Innovation in Manufacturing Firms: Requirements, Capabilities, and Conditions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managing the Collaborative Front End of Innovation in Manufacturing Firms: Requirements, Capabilities, and Conditions
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The front end is a phase of the innovation process that starts with a new product idea and completes when firms have developed a new product definition. This phase is critical for many manufacturing firms. Front-end outcomes is indeed critical to overall product success, market penetration, time to-market, and financial performance. During this phase, new products are born as ideas, and subsequently move through screening, project definition, and business analysis. However, this phase remains poorly understood in the era of more open innovation (e.g., interfirm collaboration). Although the literature on front end of innovation is well developed, prior studies have largely focused on bilateral agreements and have overlooked conditions for collaboration with science-based partners (universities and research institutes). This is especially true for manufacturing firms, for which a continuous stream of new product ideas is a key source of competitiveness. To make things worse, the front end of innovation conducted with external actors involved is often characterized by incongruent practices by partners, different magnitudes of fuzziness, and considerable risks in revealing new ideas. Developing new product definitions with different partners is thus a risky endeavor if mishandled that may seriously compromise competitive advantages of firms. Therefore, greater knowledge is required to facilitate the collaborative front end with different types of partners. Against this background, the purpose of this dissertation is to understand how to manage the collaborative front end in manufacturing firms, with a particular focus on requirements, capabilities, and conditions.

To fulfill this research purpose, data on manufacturing firms were collected through four case studies and one survey. In total, this dissertation is based on empirical data from 81 interviews with R&D members across 10 medium-sized and large manufacturing firms, as well as a survey of 146 small and medium-sized manufacturing firms. Respondents were based in Brazil or Sweden. The key theories and literature covered include coordination modes, control mechanisms, organizational routines, the resource-based view, and appropriability mechanisms.

This dissertation makes several contributions. First, it extends the front-end literature by presenting the concepts of systematic idea generation and fuzziness assessment as a prerequisite for improving front-end performance. Second, this dissertation lists collaboration conditions that help firms cooperate better with science-based partners. By collaborating with science-based partners, firms  can access codified and tacit scientific knowledge, enabling them to rapidly build on the latest research insights. The findings suggest particular practices that can be applied to reduce cultural differences and diminish goal divergence among project members. Third, this dissertation describes a set of detailed practices to streamline the involvement of different types of partners using diverse appropriability mechanisms. Ultimately, a theoretical framework is developed to describe how to manage the collaborative front end of innovation. The theoretical framework explains how manufacturing firms can use their organizational capabilities to efficiently and safely develop new product ideas. In particular, the framework identifies the necessary capabilities to explore mechanisms, practices, and routines in terms of divergent thinking, external expertise, and multiple opinions. Altogether, these contributions will assist firms to better manage collaborative front end.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå University of Technology, 2018. p. 250
Series
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology, ISSN 1402-1544
Keywords
front end of innovation, collaboration
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-38383 (URN)978-91-7790-152-5 (ISBN)978-91-7790-153-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-06-19, A109, Universitetsområdet, Luleå, 09:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-02-08 Created: 2018-11-20 Last updated: 2019-02-08Bibliographically approved

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