Sustaining Growth and Performance in East Asia
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Sustaining Growth and Performance in East Asia

The Role of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

Edited by Charles Harvie and Boon-Chye Lee

This third book in the series focuses on how small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute to achieving and sustaining growth and performance in their economies, as well as the ways in which governments can assist and enhance that contribution. This is of particular concern given the trauma suffered by East Asian economies in the wake of the financial and economic crisis of 1997–98.
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Chapter 11: Technological Sourcing in Small and Medium-Sized Australian Manufacturing Firms

Paul L. Robertson, Thomas Keil and Erkko Autio


11. Technological sourcing in small and medium-sized Australian manufacturing firms Paul L. Robertson, Thomas Keil and Erkko Autio 11.1 INTRODUCTION Access to external sources of information and knowledge can improve the ability of firms to learn and to increase their efficiency and competitiveness. This is especially true for smaller firms and for firms in industries in which information and knowledge are expanding rapidly. Gaining access to new knowledge is not always easy however, not only because some knowledge may be proprietary or tacit, but also because it is not always clear where to look for high-quality knowledge. Moreover, large geographical distances between potential sources and recipients of knowledge can significantly raise the transaction costs of searching. Firms need therefore to find inexpensive formal and informal channels for extracting information and knowledge from diverse sources including competitors, suppliers and customers, some of whom may be located far away. In this chapter we present a sectoral analysis of how small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs) in Australia, a geographically remote country with relatively low levels of domestic R&D activity, cope with their need for external information and knowledge. The effects of environmental embeddedness and firm learning on technological sourcing are discussed in section 11.2, and the implications of literal and metaphorical clustering of firms are explored in section 11.3. The roles of suppliers and customers as sources of technological knowledge are analysed in section 11.4, while the importance of sectoral variations is outlined in section 11.5. In section 11.6...

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