Levels of innovation within SMEs in peripheral regions: the role of business improvement initiatives

Richard Harris (University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK)
Rodney McAdam (University of Ulster, Belfast, UK)
Irene McCausland (Dundalk Institute of Technology, Dundalk, Ireland)
Renee Reid (Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Publication date: 15 February 2013



The aim of this paper is to investigate the effectiveness of business improvement methods (BIM/TQM) in contributing to innovation implementation in SMEs within peripheral regions.


A survey with responses from 606 SMEs in the North West European peripheral regions was administered. The survey explores the role of a range of business improvement methods (BIM/TQM) as an antecedent or stimulant in helping to achieve three levels of effective innovation implementation: introducing new products/services; engaging in innovation that resulted in major product/service innovation (radical), and engaging in innovation activities that did not result in major product innovation (incremental), and non‐innovative.


The findings show that BIM/TQM was likely to stimulate and encourage the development of incremental levels of innovation in the SMEs where there was an emphasis on the people, or organic aspects of BIM/TQM applied, rather than more mechanistic BIM/TQM approaches. However, there was a lack of a clear link between BIM/TQM and radical innovation where newness in products/services and markets was required.


There is a paucity of studies that probe the effectiveness of applying business improvement methods in stimulating innovation implementation, especially in peripheral regions and involving multiple levels of innovation.



Harris, R., McAdam, R., McCausland, I. and Reid, R. (2013), "Levels of innovation within SMEs in peripheral regions: the role of business improvement initiatives", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 102-124. https://doi.org/10.1108/14626001311298439

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