The open innovation literature has primarily been concentrating on open innovation (OI) in large companies. Hence it is very unclear whether these findings can be generalized to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This paper begins filling in this knowledge gap. In doing so, we focus explicitly on understanding network characteristics and the unfolding of OI in SMEs. Case studies were used and empirical data was mainly generated through semi-structured interviews. Cases selected for study were companies in the Danish food industry with less than 499 employees. In this paper we report our findings for four cases. Our study shows that companies with a relatively open innovation process have both strong and weak ties with external partners. Companies with a relatively more closed innovation process have on the other hand only few weak ties and no strong ties with external partners.
MAPP; Open innovation; SMEs; Food industry; Network characteristics; Tie strength; Relation type; Numbers of ties; Network content; Network interdependency
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The XX ISPIM Conference: The Future of Innovation, 2009