Title: Small enterprises as innovators: shift from a low performer to a high performer

Authors: Helena Forsman; Ulla Annala

Addresses: Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lahti School of Innovation, Saimaankatu 11, 15140 Lahti, Finland. ' Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lahti School of Innovation, Saimaankatu 11, 15140 Lahti, Finland

Abstract: This paper focuses on innovation development in small enterprises. It explores what kinds of innovations have been developed in small enterprises and what is the diversity of innovation types. In addition, this paper examines the features characterising the journey of a small enterprise from a non-innovator to a diversified innovator. The empirical evidence is based on quantitative data gathered through an e-mail questionnaire, which yielded 733 qualified responses from the representatives of Finnish small enterprises with fewer than 50 employees. The results suggest that the degree of innovation capabilities, R&D investments and profitability are associated with the diversity of developed innovation types. The findings display four alternative routes when a small enterprise moves from a non-innovator to a diversified innovator. Applying these results will provide more specific questions for studying innovation development in the smallest enterprises.

Keywords: innovation diversity; innovation types; innovation capabilities; profitability; R&D investments; research and development; small and medium-sized enterprises; SMEs; innovators; low performers; high performers; non-innovators; diversified innovators; diversification; Finland; profitability; company performance; innovation management; technology management; innovation enhancement; innovation environments.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2011.042980

International Journal of Technology Management, 2011 Vol.56 No.2/3/4, pp.154 - 171

Published online: 11 Oct 2011 *

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