Antecedent and outcomes of innovation-based growth strategies for exporting SMEs
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Small Business and Enterprise Development. 2017, 24 (4), 733-752. 10.1108/JSBED-08-2016-0125
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the antecedent and outcomes of different types of innovation as complementary growth strategies, which may enable exporting small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to achieve success in export markets. Design/methodology/approach This study is based upon a quantitative survey on Norwegian exporting SMEs. A total of 380 questionnaires were received representing 16.8 per cent response rate. A structural equation modelling analysis is carried out on the sample. Findings The study finds positive and significant associations between the firm’s growth ambition and the pursuance of product and business model innovations. Moreover, the firm’s export degree and scope has a significant and positive association with its product innovation strategy, but the association with its business model innovation is significantly negative. Research limitations/implications The study’s findings indicate that future studies should incorporate different types of innovation strategies since their associations with export performance differ substantially. Treating innovation as a general construct appears to be too simplistic. Practical implications The study’s results indicate that focus on product innovation enhances the export performance of SMEs, but that focus on business model innovation has a negative impact. The latter may be too costly and distract focus from the firm’s core competences, whereas product innovation can be assumed to provide further competitive strength. Originality/value By taking a holistic approach towards innovation, this study addresses a gap in the literature on innovation and exporting in SMEs in order to investigate the association between different types of innovation-based growth strategies and the firms’ export prosperity.