The performance effect of micro-innovation in SMEs: evidence from China

Qing Zhou, Gang Fang*, Ying-Wei Yang, Yun Wu, Liqin Brouwers-Ren

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)
    12 Downloads (Pure)


    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to theoretically and empirically analyze the impact of the types of micro-innovation on innovation performance and the choice of micro-innovation strategies in different contexts on the basis of an examination of the basis and standards of micro-innovation categorization.

    Design/methodology/approach: The authors collected and analyzed 206 survey samples from the Zhejiang Province in China; there were 68, 63 and 75 enterprises at inception, high growth and maturity stages, respectively, and there were, in total, 53, 90 and 63 low-tech manufacturing small and medium enterprises (SMEs), technology-intensive manufacturing SMEs and service-oriented SMEs, respectively. Multiple regression analysis was used to test the hypotheses.

    Findings: The analysis results suggest that SMEs at the embryonic stage should choose strategies of imitative innovation, whereas SMEs at growth stage should use continued micro-innovation and independent micro-innovation as the optimal choices; it is better for the SMEs at the mature stage to resort to independent micro-innovation. Low-tech manufacturing SMEs should opt for the continued micro-innovation strategy, and technology-intensive manufacturing SMEs should adopt independent micro-innovation, whereas service-oriented SMEs should choose both continued and independent micro-innovation strategies.

    Originality/value: This study sets up a classification framework of micro-innovation and addresses its category and sources, thus extending the micro-innovation research results. The conclusion also supports and enriches the view of open innovation in the innovation theory. Hidden behind the phenomenon that internal and external factors play vital roles, it is a basic rule that innovation activities must be subject to various related factors.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)123-138
    Number of pages16
    JournalChinese Management Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Empirical research
    • Industry type
    • Life cycle
    • Micro-innovation
    • SME
    • 22/4 OA procedure


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