Title: Facilitating innovation across SME networks

Authors: Ian Barclay, Keith Porter

Addresses: Technology Management Group, Room 210, James Parson Building, School of Engineering, Liverpool John Moores University, Byrom St, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK. ' Technology Management Group, Room 210, James Parson Building, School of Engineering, Liverpool John Moores University, Byrom St, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK

Abstract: This paper describes the results from a 3-year programme of work to develop five e-business based SME clusters based on 25 independent, diverse SME companies. It shows how the development of a rapid, practical self-assessment for SMEs (based on key business practices) was used to define cluster inhibitors and enablers. The SME clusters were formed to promote innovative approaches to business growth and were based on mutual interests. However, it was found that this new and innovative way of working was hampered by the SMEs within a cluster being at various stages of self-development and core competencies. How the self-assessment tool allowed each SME to measure its own capability in key business practices, is described. The tool was designed to support business growth and new ways of working by assessing best practice in a range of key business activities. This allowed each company in a cluster to define a programme of work that would lead to the convergence of operational activities and key core competencies.

Keywords: supply chain best practice; case studies; SME clusters; e-business; innovation; SME networks; self-assessment; small to medium-size enterprises; SMEs; electronic business; key business practices; cluster inhibitors; cluster enablers; core competencies; business growth modelling; supply chain management.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEIM.2005.006335

International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, 2005 Vol.5 No.1/2, pp.20 - 38

Available online: 22 Feb 2005 *

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