Frontiers in European Entrepreneurship Research
Edited by Robert Blackburn, Ulla Hytti and Friederike Welter
Chapter 9: Practices hindering employee innovative behaviour in manufacturing SMEs
Innovation is central to growth and competitiveness for small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) (Freel 2005; Love and Roper 2015; Parrilli and Elola 2012; Wolff and Pett 2006). While innovation has been extensively studied in the SME context, most research has considered it an attribute of the organization or scrutinized the abilities of the entrepreneur/entrepreneurial team (for example, de Jong and Marsili 2006; Verhees and Meulenberg 2004). More recently innovation studies have emphasized the role of employees in generating and contributing to innovations (Feldman and Pentland 2003; Hoeve and Nieuwenhuis 2006; Kristiansen and Bloch-Poulsen 2010) but most such studies have been conducted in large or expert service firms, or in the public sector (de Jong and Den Hartog 2007; Moriano et al. 2011), and few studies have focused on SMEs. Research also demonstrates that there are important differences between the different sectors in innovation activity among SMEs. Manufacturing firms, knowledge-intensive firms, and financial services firms perform better on innovative practices and product innovations than firms in other service industries or construction. While employee involvement was found to be significant for their whole sample, de Jong and Vermeulen (2006) found important differences between the industries. In particular, the innovative role of employees is most pronounced in knowledge-intensive firms (de Jong and Vermeulen 2006).
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