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Putting policy into practice: An exploratory study of SME innovation support in a peripheral UK region.

Galbraith, Brendan, Mcadam, Rodney, Woods, Judith and McGowan, Theresa (2017) Putting policy into practice: An exploratory study of SME innovation support in a peripheral UK region. Enrepreneuship & Regional Development: An International Journal, 30 . [Journal article]

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URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08985626.2017.1325939.

DOI: 10.1080/08985626.2017.1325939


There is a need for increased clarity on how innovation policy is interpreted and implemented in practice. Lack of coherency between innovation policy and the practical design and implementation of Government sponsored innovation support programmes can hamper the effectiveness of such support and lead to failure in improving the innovativeness and competitiveness among participating firms. Focussing on a regional Government sponsored support programme for technology-based small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the aim of this paper is to conduct a multi-level exploration of the relationships between policy interpretation and support programme design and the development of innovation capability among participant SMEs within a UK peripheral region.The Innovplus programme was designed and implemented in Northern Ireland to both help nascent high technology companies become more competitive and to contribute to the goals of the Regional Innovation Strategy. The programme adopts a 2-stage process designed to enhance competitive ability through the development of innovative market-led products and manufacturing processes. A knowledge-based absorptive capacity framework is used in this paper as the theoretical lens to explore the relationships between policy interpretation and programme design and the development of innovation capability within participant SMEs. Drawing from participant observation, semi-structured interviews, focus groups and document analysis, the research employs an exploratory sense making multi-level approach (i.e. policy, programme and participant SME levels). The findings show that the design of the Innovplus programme, while linked to a coherent Regional Innovation Strategy, lacks consistency in relation to the policy and practical interpretation of knowledge and innovation. This inconsistency is reflected in the practical design of the programme with a disparity observed between the stated and actual intent of the Innovplus programme, limiting its effectiveness as a result. In terms of the development of innovation capability, it was found that recognition and development of nascent absorptive capacity drivers in potential form at stage 1 was essential before participant SMEs could transition to realised absorptive capacity in stage 2.

Item Type:Journal article
Keywords:Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); Innovation, Absorptive Capacity; Regional Innovation Programmes; Peripheral Regions.
Faculties and Schools:Ulster Business School > Department of Management and Leadership
Ulster Business School
Research Institutes and Groups:Business and Management Research Institute
ID Code:37716
Deposited By: Dr Brendan Galbraith
Deposited On:24 May 2017 14:30
Last Modified:18 Nov 2018 23:23

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