Cooperation as a vehicle for innovation: a study of the effects of firm size and industry type

Silveli Cristo-Andrade (University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal) (Fucape Business School, Vitória, Brazil)
Mário José Franco (Managements and Economics, CEFAGE-UBI Research Centre, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Publication date: 19 June 2019



Based on firms’ need to remain competitive and dynamic in a scenario of constant change, the purpose of this paper is to compare the actors involved in cooperation for innovation between Brazilian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large firms (LFs), and also in two industries/sectors, manufacturing and services.


To achieve this objective, the database chosen was PINTEC, with data available from 1998 to 2014. The statistical analyses performed were binary logistic regression, descriptive statistics of the variables, correlation matrix and the difference of means.


The empirical evidence show that the firm’s characteristics (SME or LF) favour the use of one type of cooperation for innovation or another, highlighting SMEs’ proximity to their clients and LFs’ structures, tending to belong to business groups and having links to training centres and technical assistance networks.

Research limitations/implications

The theoretical contribution of this study lies in the evidence that types of cooperation for innovation can vary according to firm size and the type of industry/sector, and the practical contribution lies in pointing out the importance of clients for SMEs, and for LFs the importance of business groups, technical assistance and professional training centres. The importance of suppliers in cooperation for innovation stands out in the service sector, and that of clients in the manufacturing sector.


This study shows that the types of cooperation to innovation can vary according to firm size and type of sector, in an emerging market and with low rates of innovation. It is emphasized that most research on the subject has been carried out in developed countries or emerging Asian ones. Therefore, this study is innovative because it shows particularities of the Brazilian market that can subsequently be observed in other emerging markets.



Cristo-Andrade, S. and Franco, M. (2019), "Cooperation as a vehicle for innovation: a study of the effects of firm size and industry type", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

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