Title: Developing world market-leading companies – innovation governance in German small and medium-sized enterprises

Authors: Harald Dolles

Addresses: German Graduate School of Management and Law, Bahnhofstrasse 1, 74072 Heilbronn, Germany; University of Gothenburg, School of Business, Economics and Law, Box 610, 40530 Goteborg, Sweden

Abstract: A high density of highly innovative world market-leading small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) can be found in the rural region Heilbronn-Franconia of Germany. Those are commonly named as |German hidden champions|. This research aims to reveal factors that influence their innovation governance structure, by examining the firm|s characteristics, HRM, organisational structures and leadership styles. All four influencing factors have been explored through semi-structured qualitative interviews with the owners or top-managers of the firms. For evaluation, a qualitative content analysis based on Mayring|s suggestions was implemented using NVivo8. With regards to fostering innovation a strong sense of entrepreneurial activity and visionary leadership; emphasis on local recruitment strategies, retention programs and employees| involvement in business processes; formalised innovation processes; informal networks; rigorous knowledge management and open communication modes were discovered.

Keywords: technology management; innovation governance; company strategy; informal networks; human resource management; HRM; leadership; manufacturing; small and medium-sized enterprises; SMEs; Germany; Heilbronn-Franconia; German hidden champions; organisational structures; top management; business owners; qualitative content analysis; vision; NVivo8; Philipp Mayring; entrepreneurship; entrepreneurial activity; local recruitment; employee retention; worker involvement; knowledge management; KM; open communication; business environment; globalisation; globalization; competiveness; innovation; Europe.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBE.2010.032712

International Journal of Business Environment, 2010 Vol.3 No.2, pp.139 - 158

Published online: 15 Apr 2010 *

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