The Role of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises
Edited by Charles Harvie and Boon-Chye Lee
Chapter 11: Technological Sourcing in Small and Medium-Sized Australian Manufacturing Firms
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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