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Characterising absorptive capacity supporting SMEs’ learnings within collaborative innovation networks: insights from multi-level case studies

Lamiae Benhayoun-Sadafiyine, Marie-Anne Le Dain () and Carine Dominguez-Péry ()
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Marie-Anne Le Dain: G-SCOP_CC - Conception collaborative - G-SCOP - Laboratoire des sciences pour la conception, l'optimisation et la production - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UGA - Université Grenoble Alpes - Grenoble INP - Institut polytechnique de Grenoble - Grenoble Institute of Technology - UGA - Université Grenoble Alpes
Carine Dominguez-Péry: CERAG - Centre d'études et de recherches appliquées à la gestion - UGA - Université Grenoble Alpes

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Abstract: Through collaborative innovation networks (CINs), SMEs access valuable knowledge which requires the deployment of their absorptive capacity (ACAP) to be efficiently used. A small and medium enterprise (SME) absorbs this knowledge to fulfil reciprocal learning for achieving the network innovation goal, but also one-way learning to individually improve its performance. Nevertheless, no study explains how these opposing learnings unfold for SMEs in CINs to guide their ACAP deployment. Based on three cases of CINs including SMEs and two focus groups, we propose a characterisation of ACAP supporting SMEs' learnings within CINs. As a result, an SME deploys acquisition, assimilation and application actions and attitudes to contribute to the CIN's setting-up and operational stages, while fulfilling one-way learning. These practices have different focuses and intensity according to the network stage and the SME's contextual setting. Hence, this study highlights the peculiarities of ACAP that enable SMEs in CINs manage the interplay between reciprocal and one-way learnings.

Keywords: Open innovation; Collaborative networks; Absorptive capacity; SMEs; Inter-organisational learning (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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Published in International Journal of Innovation Management, 2021, 25 (4), pp.2150047. ⟨10.1142/S136391962150047X⟩

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DOI: 10.1142/S136391962150047X

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