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Do entrepreneurial knowledge and innovative attitude overcome “imperfections” in the innovation process? Insights from SMEs in the UK and Italy

Antonio Usai (Department of Economics and Business, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy)
Veronica Scuotto (Leonard de Vinci, Pole universitaire, Research center, 92 916 Paris La Défense, France, Paris, France and Department of Economics and Business, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy)
Alan Murray (School of Business and Enterprise, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, UK)
Fabio Fiano (Link Campus University, Campus of Naples, Italy)
Luca Dezi (Department of Business and Quantitative Studies, University of Naples “Parthenope”, Napoli, Italy)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 12 October 2018

Issue publication date: 18 October 2018

1851

Abstract

Purpose

Entrepreneurial knowledge spurs innovation and, in turn, generates a competitive advantage. This paper aims to explore if entrepreneurial knowledge combined with the attitude to innovate can overcome the key “imperfections” of the innovation process generated by dynamic, current technological progress in the knowledge-intensive sector. The “imperfections” identified in risk management, asymmetric information in the knowledge management process and hold-up problems can all disrupt collaborative partnerships and limit opportunities for innovation.

Design/methodology/approach

A theory-building approach is applied which offers a case study analysis of two small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These two SMEs operate in Europe but in two different territories: the UK and Italy. The study explores three key imperfections, risk management, asymmetric information in the knowledge management process and hold-up problems, which occur in the innovation process.

Findings

The entrepreneurs face these imperfections by adopting an open innovation model. Notwithstanding, both entrepreneurs had to deal with all “imperfections”, and their skills, attributes, attitude and aptitude allowed them to grow their business and continually develop new products. Therefore, the imperfections do not limit the innovative capacity of an entrepreneur but rather enhance their challengeable attitude. In this regard, the case studies induce a further analysis on entrepreneurial knowledge intertwined with entrepreneurial risk management and networking skills.

Research limitations/implications

The empirical significance of the two cases does not allow theorisation. However, this research offers interesting results which can be strengthened by a comparative case study with other countries or deeper investigation by applying a quantitative approach.

Originality/value

By leveraging entrepreneurial knowledge, the imperfections noted in the innovation process can be overcome. Entrepreneurial knowledge is recognised as the main asset of an enterprise if it is combined with external talent or human resources. Entrepreneurs aim to develop innovative approaches and ideas through establishing both formal and informal collaborative partnership relationships which are used thanks to the entrepreneurs’ networking skills, knowledge and abilities.

Keywords

Citation

Usai, A., Scuotto, V., Murray, A., Fiano, F. and Dezi, L. (2018), "Do entrepreneurial knowledge and innovative attitude overcome “imperfections” in the innovation process? Insights from SMEs in the UK and Italy", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 22 No. 8, pp. 1637-1654. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-01-2018-0035

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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