KIBS Role in the Innovation and Internationalization Processes of Firms: a Bibliometric Overview


  • Alexandra Braga CIICESI & ESTG-P.Porto
  • Joana Ferreira ESTG-P.Porto
  • Jorge Sousa ESTG-P.Porto



In recent decades, KIBS have been one of the most dynamic segments of the service sector in European countries and are one of the fastest growing sectors of the European Union economy. KIBS are firms that provide knowledge-intensive inputs to the business processes of other organizations.

In the regional and national economy, KIBS have played a central role in innovation as carriers, producers and mediators of knowledge. Consequently, this knowledge has a critical impact on the internationalization of firms. New sources of information and knowledge help firms compete and grow in markets of which they possess little or no prior knowledge. Firms face difficulties in foreign markets, so they need to develop a strong knowledge base to successfully compete across borders. The intensity of knowledge and the diversity of knowledge sources positively impact both the internationalization of firms and their innovation. Knowledge-intensive firms represent a link between their customers and the knowledge base available across the economy, and therefore act as a catalyst for innovation and internationalization.

Recognizing the important role played by KIBS and to provide as overall picture of the research field, a bibliometric approach was performed, based on a mapping of scientific publications, intellectual structure and research trends related to the area under study, highlighting the current approaches of reference on the subject of innovation, internationalization and knowledge. In light of this consideration, the main objective of this study is to identify some of the most relevant research in this field and some of the newest trends, according to the information found in the Web of Science database, thus contributing to the enrichment of the existing literature. The specific objectives of this study are as follows: (1) to identify how the concepts of KIBS, innovation and internationalization are defined in the literature and assess the evolution achieved in the field of research; (2) to identify and measure research productivity, the trend of collaboration between countries, and the main and most relevant journals and authors; and (3) to analyze and map co-citations and research topics to identify the intellectual structure of the literature.