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Exploring the effects of inter-firm linkages on SMEs' open innovation from an ecosystem perspective: An empirical study of Chinese manufacturing SMEs

Liang Mei, Tao Zhang and Jin Chen

Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 2019, vol. 144, issue C, 118-128

Abstract: In this paper, we study the effects of inter-firm linkages on the open innovation of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from an innovation ecosystem perspective. Based on resource dependence theory and the bipartite structure of business ecosystems, we divide a SME's external linkages with its partners in an innovation ecosystem into two types (i.e. the Linkages of a SME with its Prominent Organizations (LPO) and the Linkages of the SME with its Service Intermediaries (LSI)). We then examine the relationships between LPO (and LSI) and the SME's innovation performance and analyze the influences of the SME's absorptive capacity on the two relationships. Research results support a positive relationship between LPO and SMEs' innovation performance, and a positive relationship between LSI and SMEs' innovation performance and a positive relationship between LSI and LPO. In addition, research results show that when measured by R&D intensity, SMEs' absorptive capacity weakens the positive effects of LPO (and LSI) on SMEs' innovation performance, whereas when measured by IT adoption, SMEs' absorptive capacity strengthens the two positive relationships. Relevant theoretical and managerial contributions are discussed.

Keywords: Open innovation; Innovation ecosystem; Absorptive capability; Prominent organization; Service intermediaries; SMEs (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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