Title: How do small and medium-sized enterprises learn through collaborative networks for innovation? A mixed methodology to explore absorptive capacity supporting learning

Authors: Néstor Fabián Ayala; Marie Anne Le-Dain; Lamiae Benhayoun-Sadafiyine; Arthur Marcon; Carine Dominguez-Péry

Addresses: Organisational Engineering Group (NEO), Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Av. Osvaldo Aranha 99 – Sala LOPP 508 – 5o Andar, Centro, 90035190 – Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil ' G-SCOP Laboratory, Université Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble INP, 46 Avenue Félix Viallet 38000, Grenoble, France ' Rabat Business School, International University of Rabat, Technopolis Rabat-Shore Rocade Rabat-Salé, 11103, Rabat, Morocco ' G-SCOP Laboratory, Université Grenoble Alpes, Génie Industriel, Grenoble INP, 46 Avenue Félix Viallet 38000, Grenoble, France ' CERAG Laboratory, Grenoble INP (Institute of Engineering and Management), University of Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble IAE School of Management, 525 Av. Centrale, 38000 Grenoble, France

Abstract: This study investigates how an SME learns in a collaborative network for innovation (CNI) context by deploying absorptive capacity (ACAP) practices. More specifically, we explore the effects of ACAP practices for reciprocal learning upon those used for one-way learning throughout the network creation and operation stages. To hypothesise these effects, we relied on prior literature and empirical evidence drawn from interviews with 13 SMEs embedded in three different CNIs. We then used PLS regression to test these hypotheses based on data collected from 74 SMEs. Results show that ACAP for reciprocal learning has different effects on ACAP for one-way learning, depending on the network stage. This study provides a better understanding of the development of both learnings throughout a CNI. It also raises practitioners' awareness of the most important aspects of ACAP for deriving valuable learnings from their network experiences.

Keywords: absorptive capacity; interorganisational learning; collaborative networks for innovation; CNI; SME; open innovation; mixed methods.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2023.128793

International Journal of Technology Management, 2023 Vol.92 No.1/2, pp.24 - 62

Accepted: 04 Jan 2022
Published online: 06 Feb 2023 *

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