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A mapping for managers: open innovation for R&D intensive SMEs in the life sciences sector

Stefanos Marangos (Department of Leadership, Strategy and Organisations, Bournemouth University Business School, Bournemouth, UK)
Lorraine Warren (School of Management, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to examine what strategies the CEOs of research and development (R&D) intensive small/medium enterprises (SMEs) in the life sciences sector carry out in regard to open innovation (OI), as R&D costs continue to rise, placing pressure on innovation managers.


A qualitative study was carried out, consisting of 30 semi-structured interviews with CEOs of small R&D intensive SMEs in the life sciences sector. The authors analysed the key factors identified by the CEOs in relation to their OI strategies.


SMEs adopt a range of OI strategies and collaborations, subject to certain conditions. A multilevel mapping developed from the analysis connects actors to the wider domain, setting the outcomes of the research in context.

Research limitations/implications

This qualitative study provides detailed understandings that could provide the basis for a wider quantitative study that would provide greater coverage of the sector, thus reinforcing the outcomes.

Practical implications

The study will be relevant to practising CEOs who are considering the range of options offered by OI.


While large firms are adopting OI strategies, less is known about the OI strategies developed in SMEs. The study addresses that gap. The life sciences context is also novel.



Marangos, S. and Warren, L. (2017), "A mapping for managers: open innovation for R&D intensive SMEs in the life sciences sector", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 210-229.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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