How highly exporting SMEs set-up their R&D activities : Examples from the Swiss Machine Building Industry
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.
contribution to scientific community
HSG Profile Area
SoM - Business Innovation
Creating & Capturing Value through R&D Management and Innovation
R&D Management Conference (RADMA) 2012