Complementors: their effects on new value creation by SMEs in the Dutch printing industry

M.J.M. Habets

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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New value creation by SMEs (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) is often the result of collaborative efforts. Collaborations with complementors - firms that independently provide complementary products or services directly to mutual customers like coffee and coffee machines, hardware and software or cars and petrol stations - contribute significantly to new value creation, but are underexplored in current research. This dissertation delves into the role that complementor relationships play in the creation of new value and takes the commoditised Dutch printing industry as the empirical field. Starting from an economic, capabilities and marketing perspective, I explore the management literature on the expected role of complementors and complementarity in the new value creation process and argue that it is of particular interest to disentangle complementors and suppliers, and relate them to firm innovation performance. Then, by drawing on a case study from the Dutch printing industry and using the literature of social cognitive embedding, I am able to formulate hypotheses. These are tested in the quantitative section, with an 18% response rate. The results show that, as with suppliers, complementors are key relationships for successful innovation. However, both complementors and suppliers can have negative as well as positive impacts on a firm’s innovation performance and each has a stronger impact on certain aspects of performance. I thus conclude that complementor relationships are a valuable resource for Dutch printing firms in fighting the problem of commoditisation, though managers first need clarity on what specific aspect of innovation needs to be improved. Suggestions for further research are to develop a uniform holistic model of the external relationships a firm can have and preferably test it in other empirical settings.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Groen, Aard, Supervisor
  • Geurts, Peter P.A.T.M., Co-Supervisor
  • von Raesfeld Meijer, Ariane, Co-Supervisor
Award date5 Dec 2012
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs9789036534529
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2012


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