Small Business Economics

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 537-562

First online:

Open innovation practices in SMEs and large enterprises

  • André SpithovenAffiliated withBelgian Science Policy Office Email author 
  • , Wim VanhaverbekeAffiliated withHasselt UniversityEsade Business SchoolNational University of Singapore
  • , Nadine RoijakkersAffiliated withHasselt University

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Few studies on open innovation (OI) address OI practices in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and how their use of OI and the resulting benefits differ from those of large enterprises. The lack of resources in SMEs to engage in looking outward is said to be a barrier to OI, but at the same time this shortage is cited as a motive for looking beyond organisational boundaries for technological knowledge. We investigate how OI dimensions impact the innovative performance of SMEs in comparison to large companies. The key finding is that the effects of OI practices in SMEs often differ from those in large firms. SMEs are more effective in using different OI practices simultaneously when they introduce new products on the market, whereas this is less the case for large firms. Turnover from new products in SMEs is driven by intellectual property protection mechanisms, while large firms in this case benefit more from their search strategies.


Open innovation SMEs Large enterprises Product innovation Innovative performance

JEL Classifications

L25 O31 O32 O33 O34 L26