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The digital transformation of SMEs – a new knowledge broker called the digital innovation hub

Antonio Crupi (Institute of Management, University of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy)
Nicola Del Sarto (Institute of Management, University of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy)
Alberto Di Minin (Institute of Management, University of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy)
Gian Luca Gregori (Department of Management, Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy)
Dominique Lepore (Department of Political Science, Communication and International Relations, University of Macerata, Macerata, Italy)
Luca Marinelli (Department of Management, Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy)
Francesca Spigarelli (Department of Law, University of Macerata, Macerata, Italy)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 12 June 2020

Issue publication date: 8 July 2020

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to understand if and how European digital innovation hubs (DIHs) filling the role of knowledge brokers (KBs) can support the digital transformation (DX) of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by triggering open innovation (OI) practices.

Design/methodology/approach

After presenting a conceptual model of reference, a survey and a subsequent in-depth interview were conducted to capture evidence from Italian DIHs. These structures were selected for their growing importance, as confirmed by the National Plan for Industry 4.0.

Findings

The findings highlight that Italian DIHs act not only as KBs but also as knowledge sources that give rise to a digital imprinting process that is able to shape the DX of SMEs.

Originality/value

Research on knowledge sharing and OI has mainly focused on large firms. The study covers the gaps identified in the literature by considering the role of KBs in enabling SMEs to embrace DX.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

All authors have contributed equally to the collection of primary data from questionnaires and interviews and in the discussion of the results till drawing the final conclusions.

Citation

Crupi, A., Del Sarto, N., Di Minin, A., Gregori, G.L., Lepore, D., Marinelli, L. and Spigarelli, F. (2020), "The digital transformation of SMEs – a new knowledge broker called the digital innovation hub", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 24 No. 6, pp. 1263-1288. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-11-2019-0623

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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