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Open Innovation and SMEs: Exploring Public Policy and the Scope for Improvements in University Based Public Programmes through a Multidisciplinary Lens

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2012
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
Issue number4
Volume18
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)457-476
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore, through the use of a multidisciplinary lens, the policy context and the scope for improvements in university-based public programmes focused on improving innovation in small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Design/methodology/approach – The authors use the street-level bureaucracy (SLB), combined with the systems of innovation approach (SIA) and diagnostic analysis (DA) to understand the context components that impact on public programme services. The study is part of a research programme oriented to the diffusion of information systems in SMEs and which used original interview-based programme support case studies, interviews with regional policy managers, and documentation relating to the policy system and different public programmes. Although the empirical work was UK and European Union centric the results of the research have wide applicability.

Findings – The paper establishes the importance of programme contexts for diagnosing and providing a basis for public programme improvements. It further demonstrates the robustness of the context analysis framework to provide insights into proposed policy changes. The responsibility of improving programme contexts relies on actors that operate outside programme organisations, for instance EU funding bodies, government departments in charge of SME policies, public-private partnerships, and private evaluators. Given this complexity it is suggested that SME associations have a potentially important role in increasing participation by SMEs in the public programme for innovation and knowledge support policy. Despite possible policy changes the requirement for public programme support for innovation and hence the role of universities as programme providers is confirmed and expanded.

Research limitations/implications – The results demonstrate the value of a multidisciplinary framework to analyse programme interventions at both macro and micro levels and provide a basis for programme policy and policy implementation improvements.

Originality/value – This research is a novel attempt to use the SLB, SIA and DA to public programme university-based interventions in SMEs and SME policies in general. It complements extant research on open innovation and knowledge exchange by extending the concept of public programme contexts. Beneficiaries of the findings include policy makers, programme organisations, universities, SME associations, and researchers.