Strengthening SMEs’ innovation culture through collaborations with public research organizations. Do all firms benefit equally?

Julia Olmos-Peñuela, Ana García-Granero, Elena Castro-Martínez, Pablo D’Este
European Planning Studies

The purpose of this paper is to explore whether collaborating with public research organizations (PROs) contributes to strengthening the innovation culture of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). We examine to what extent their innovation culture is reinforced by collaborations with research organizations and investigate the type of organizational strategies that enhance this effect of collaboration. The empirical study is based on a survey of firms that collaborate with the largest Spanish PRO, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Our results indicate that SMEs differ greatly in their capacity to strengthen their innovation culture through collaboration with research organizations. We show also that firms with formal innovation plans that develop internal and external search strategies are more likely to improve their innovation culture as a result of collaboration with PROs. These findings provide managers with new insights into how to strengthen their firms’ innovation culture through collaboration with research organizations.