SMEs in Collaborative Innovation Networks: A Maturity Model Evaluating their Absorptive Capacity
Keywords:SMEs, Collaborative networks, Maturity models, Absorptice capacity, Collaborative Innovation
SMEs increasingly engage in Collaborative Innovation Networks (CINs) to access valuable knowledge for innovation from complementary partners. They deploy their absorptive capacity (ACAP) to make efficient use of this new external knowledge. Despite the importance of ACAP to support the contribution of SMEs to innovation throughout the lifecycle of a CIN, there is no operational measure to guide them regarding ACAP implementation to reach the network common innovation goal. We propose to design a grid-based maturity model allowing SMEs to evaluate their ACAP given their embedding contexts in CINs. We follow a mixed methods’ Design Science approach to define the content of the maturity model and adjust it by predicting the ACAP aspects that an SME should primarily master considering its context in a CIN. Our results expand academic understanding on the contingent peculiarities of ACAP by unveiling the natures of its practices and its contextual variability for the examined SMEs. We improve practice by providing SMEs with an assessment tool to early spot their ACAP deficiencies and implement the relevant corrective actions.
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