The relationship between external knowledge, absorptive capacity (AC) and innovative performance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is investigated empirically. Using data from a survey on firms located in North Norway, we ask whether AC plays a mediating role between different external knowledge inflows and innovative performance. The results are consistent with AC as an important mediator for transforming external knowledge inflows into higher innovative performance if we include all SMEs in the sample. However, this result is not robust when considering the sub-sample of non-R&D SMEs only. External knowledge inflows have a much stronger direct effect on innovation performance for non-R&D firms and leave a weak mediating effect of AC. Our findings suggest that measures of AC should be developed further in order to make AC a more relevant concept for empirical studies of SMEs without in-house R&D.
Small Business Economics – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 22, 2014
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