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How highly exporting SMEs set-up their R&D activities : Examples from the Swiss Machine Building Industry

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abstract In this paper, we investigate how highly exporting small- to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) set up their R&D activities to be competitive in a global economy. As companies with limited resources vis-à-vis their larger counterparts, SMEs as niche players often have to expand their markets and simultaneously have to remain technology leader within their industry. We identify two main organizational approaches that SMEs apply: captive offshore R&D activities and technology cooperations. In our research based on 31 interviews with R&D managers and four in-depth case studies, we derive four distinct archetypes: ‘domestic integrator’, ‘world-wide integrator’, ‘domestic specialist’ and ‘world-wide specialist’. These archetypes are illustrated and discussed along four cases. Our findings reveal that each archetype necessitates a very specific set of strategic, organizational and operational characteristics to attain a coherent set-up of their R&D activities. This paper is designed to support R&D managers of highly exporting SMEs on how R&D activities can be organized and which contextual factors should be taken into account.
   
type conference paper (English)
   
keywords SME, R&D management, internationalization
   
name of conference The R&D Management Conference 2012 (Grenoble, France)
date of conference 23-5-2012
title of proceedings Creating & Capturing Value through R&D Management and Innovation
page(s) 25
publisher R&D Management (Malden USA)
ISBN 978-0-9559367-4-6
review blind review
   
profile area SoM - Business Innovation
citation Sauter, P., & Zeschky, M. (2012). How highly exporting SMEs set-up their R&D activities: Examples from the Swiss Machine Building Industry. In Creating & Capturing Value through R&D Management and Innovation, pp.25. Malden USA: R&D Management. - ISBN 978-0-9559367-4-6.