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Article
Publication date: 9 October 2017

Paolo Neirotti, Elisabetta Raguseo and Emilio Paolucci

Literature on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has so far produced limited evidence on how these firms pursue their organizational flexibility with information and…

Abstract

Purpose

Literature on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has so far produced limited evidence on how these firms pursue their organizational flexibility with information and communication technology (ICT) and ad hoc work practices. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the extant literature by focusing on how SMEs use flexible work practices that provide latitude with respect to when employees work, where they work and via which communication medium. Specifically, the authors analyze how such practices are related to the conditions that SMEs face in reference to their competitive environment and their patterns of ICT usage.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey was conducted on 304 Italian SMEs, with the aim of identifying the contextual dimensions where flexible work is chosen and the different typologies of flexible work implemented by companies.

Findings

Flexible work in SMEs is chosen for different reasons associated to different conditions in the competitive environments and in ICT usage where SMEs operate. In general, SMEs use flexible work when they are more capable of improving their external orientation toward suppliers, customers, and the entrance in new markets with ICT. This duality is more likely in the competitive environments where external orientation and information processing is more needed, namely, environments that are uncertain and complex for product and breadth of the geographical complexity (scope) covered.

Research limitations/implications

In this paper, the authors offer an analysis on the contextual characterizations of flexible work practices. Future studies should disentangle more in depth the ways these characterizations are related to different ICT usages.

Practical implications

In uncertain and complex environments, SMEs should increase their external information processing with ICT and organizational practices that support the latitude of employees involved in boundary spanning with respect to where, when, and how they work.

Originality/value

This paper offers an interpretation of flexible work as an organizational mechanism used to cope with uncertain and complex environments where more external orientation is needed. This paper also shows that there are four different typologies of flexible work implemented by companies, namely, flexible work for cheaper input costs, flexible work for operational drivers, flexible work for strategic drivers, and flexible work for individual motivations, and that in some cases the conditions under which they are chosen are different.

Details

Journal of Enterprise Information Management, vol. 30 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-0398

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Article
Publication date: 12 February 2018

Paolo Neirotti, Elisabetta Raguseo and Emilio Paolucci

The adoption of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has some peculiarities that may depend on the combined effect of size…

Abstract

Purpose

The adoption of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has some peculiarities that may depend on the combined effect of size and the competitive environment. The purpose of this paper is to use a contingency approach to explore how SMEs develop organizational capabilities through ICT investments in response to environmental conditions.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey on 284 SMEs in Italy was conducted and data were analyzed with regression models for testing seven hypotheses on the environmental influence on the development of ICT-based capabilities and the role played by firm size.

Findings

The results show that the environment influences the development of such capabilities in a different way, depending on size. Within munificent environments, ICT-based capabilities are more diffused among larger SMEs, whereas under environmental complexity, this pattern is inverted, with larger SMEs exhibiting a more limited deployment of ICT in support of both their internally and externally oriented processes. Under environmental dynamism medium-sized firms tend to develop more internally oriented ICT capabilities, but fail in reporting superior capabilities for managing external relationships.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to understand the relationship between the environment and ICT investments in SMEs. Since the combined effect of size and the competitive environment may influence considerably the ICT investments in SMEs, this study investigates the organizational responses with respect to how SMEs use ICT to address their external environment. This focus provides a contribution to understand the challenges that SMEs are facing in the current technological and market environment, where changes in the ICT paradigm raise the level of complexity and dynamism and bring changes in competition levels that leave few resources for growth to SMEs.

Details

Journal of Enterprise Information Management, vol. 31 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-0398

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Article
Publication date: 2 May 2018

Daniele Battaglia, Paolo Neirotti and Emilio Paolucci

International sales are critical for the prosperity of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), because of the limited size of their domestic market, but they can be difficult…

Abstract

Purpose

International sales are critical for the prosperity of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), because of the limited size of their domestic market, but they can be difficult to attain for a number of reasons. The purpose of this paper is to investigate this topic and use a domain ambidexterity framework to analyze why the relationship between research and development (R&D) investments and export initiatives generates managerial tensions in high- and medium-technology industries. In this paper, it is claimed that R&D investments and internationalization can be conflicting objectives that entail a diversity of routines and managerial approaches. This aspect is critical, especially when SMEs are in the early stages of their life cycle and are resource constrained.

Design/methodology/approach

This issue is tested using multiple regressions on data collected through a survey that was conducted in 2014. The sample is composed of 221 SMEs operating in Italy in high-and medium-technology industries.

Findings

The estimates show that combining contemporary high R&D investments and high export activities negatively affects the growth of revenues of SMEs. In detail, when exports over revenue are below 10 percent, R&D investments have a positive effect on revenue growth, whereas when exports over revenue are above 50 percent, the effect of R&D investments on revenue growth is negative. However, age acts as a moderator on this relationship, thus implying that the effect of combining these initiatives varies according to the life cycle of a firm. In particular, combining R&D investments and export generates tensions that limit the growth of revenues in young SMEs (less than ten years old). For firms aged between 10 and 25 years, the effect is positive, while the effect is positive but not statistically significant for mature firms (older than 25 years). These results demonstrate that the diversity of the organizational maturity in SMEs has an impact on their ability to combine activities that require different capabilities (technological vs market).

Originality/value

This paper offers a theoretical contribution to the literature on domain ambidexterity, as it shows that combining contemporary innovation-related activities with international activities may constrain the performance of SMEs, according to the age of the firm. It extends the theoretical framework of domain ambidexterity to international studies and it reconciles previous mixed evidence about the combination of innovation and internationalization activities of SMEs.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 56 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 19 July 2021

Emilio Paolucci, Elena Pessot and Riccardo Ricci

This paper aims to investigate the effect of specific subsets of digital technologies and governance mechanisms (i.e. relational and contractual) on the efficiency of the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the effect of specific subsets of digital technologies and governance mechanisms (i.e. relational and contractual) on the efficiency of the automotive supply chain (SC).

Design/methodology/approach

Building on the Transaction Costs Economic (TCE) theory, and on the literatures on the governance and Digital Transformation of SCs, the research employs a multi-respondent survey on a sample of 101 Italian automotive suppliers. It analyses the interplay between investments in network and physical–digital interface technologies and buyer–supplier relationship governance models in a joint product development effort. The related effects on costs, from the automotive suppliers' perspective, are considered.

Findings

The results confirm the TCE assumptions on governance mechanisms being appropriate to enhance cost performance, but in particular show that digital technologies shape the governance of buyer–supplier relationships with different patterns. The features of synchronisation and accessibility, as ensured by network technologies, are found to strengthen the impact of contractual governance, while the adoption of physical–digital interface technologies, and their enhanced features of virtualisation and traceability, further enhance the impact of relational governance on the efficiency improvements of suppliers.

Practical implications

SC actors need to recognise the importance of long-term collaboration and superior coordination through investments in specific subsets of digital technologies, to ensure a higher product and production data codifiability, transparency and thus integration at both an intra- and an inter-firm level.

Originality/value

This study is one of the first to have considered Digital Transformation in SCs from the suppliers' perspective and its implications on the efficiency of relationship governance with buyers.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 41 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 24 April 2020

Federico Caviggioli, Alessandra Colombelli, Antonio De Marco and Emilio Paolucci

This paper analyzes the importance given by venture capital (VC) firms to the different characteristics of the patent portfolio of a young innovative company (YIC). In an…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper analyzes the importance given by venture capital (VC) firms to the different characteristics of the patent portfolio of a young innovative company (YIC). In an attempt to go beyond previous studies, the authors argue that not only is the size of a technological portfolio significant but also its nature. It is also examined whether the correlation between patents and VC financing varies across different industrial sectors and over different rounds of VC investments.

Design/methodology/approach

The empirical analysis has focused on a sample of 1,096 European YICs between the years 2010 and 2014. Target companies were identified in the monthly bulletins of Go4Venture, which reported the largest European deals and gathered information on the amount of VC financing. Additional data was derived from FinSMEs and crunchbase. Industrial sectors were differentiated according to their ability to appropriate the returns of innovation by relying on patent protection mechanisms. A multivariate regression framework at the patent family level was adopted to investigate empirical associations between the amount of VC financing and the characteristics of a YIC's patent portfolio.

Findings

The results confirm the positive value of patents. Both the size and the characteristics of a YIC patent portfolio have been found to be positively associated with the total amount of VC financing. Additionally, the correlation between a YIC patent portfolio and VC investment varies across industries and over rounds of funding. Although the number of patents is positively correlated with VC investments in sectors with strong Intellectual Property (IP) regimes, the same does not apply to sectors characterized by lower patent intensity, where qualitative metrics seem to have a stronger correlation. Significant differences have also been found for the different rounds of VC investments.

Research limitations/implications

The limitations of this paper are related to data availability. Empirical associations have been investigated, but causal effects cannot be ascertained in this framework. The authors focused on a sample of firms that received VC funding. Several transactions were excluded, due to a lack of specifications pertaining to the round series. Furthermore, a number of potential drivers of the financed amounts, such as variables related to the founder or the management team, have not been considered in this study.

Practical implications

For firms operating in sectors with weak IP regimes, patents are positively associated with attracting equity capital, if they are the output of R&D collaborations and have higher technical merit. In industries where patent intensity is higher, patent portfolio size matters more than quality. This suggests that VC investors award innovation quality to cases in which patenting is less frequent. Since the results indicate that positive associations between patenting and VC financing are more significant in later stages, managers should plan their patenting strategy in advance to reap the related benefits, and then collect the premium at later VC stages.

Originality/value

In this paper, the importance given by VC firms to different characteristics of a YIC patent portfolio has been analyzed in terms of size, quality, and complexity. While previous empirical analyses mainly focused on a single sector, the authors have examined whether the relevance of patents for VC financing decisions varies across industries and over different rounds of investment. The geographical coverage of the sample is another novelty of the paper. Previous works focused on a limited number of countries, whereas this research has considered firms operating in several European countries.

Details

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, vol. 26 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1355-2554

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 July 2020

Giustina Secundo, Gioconda Mele, Giuliano Sansone and Emilio Paolucci

Entrepreneurship Education (EE) is increasing throughout the world. In 2012, the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) financed Contamination Labs…

Abstract

Purpose

Entrepreneurship Education (EE) is increasing throughout the world. In 2012, the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) financed Contamination Labs (CLabs), which are laboratories that are aimed at developing entrepreneurial mindsets in all university students. This study analyses the entrepreneurial learning process mechanisms adopted in these CLabs.

Design/methodology/approach

An ethnographic case study was performed in two Italian CLabs from October 2017 to December 2019.

Findings

Findings demonstrate that the CLabs in Italy are promising Entrepreneurship Education Centres which create programmes to develop an entrepreneurial mindset in students with different educational backgrounds and levels. Interdisciplinarity in the composition of the student teams, virtuous contamination of knowledge and experience between the students and the stakeholders from the entrepreneurial ecosystem are the key pillars to foster an entrepreneurial mindset in all the students.

Research limitations/implications

The limitations of this work regard the need to expand the analysis to all the other CLabs created in Italian universities.

Practical implications

The findings provide indications that may be used to guide a university faculty in the design and management of Entrepreneurship Education Centres in collaboration with entrepreneurs, corporations, student clubs, incubators and representatives of the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Moreover, the results point out a need to develop interdisciplinary entrepreneurial programmes.

Originality/value

The originality resides in the analysis of a novel type of Entrepreneurship Education Centre in Italian Universities created as the result of an ad-hoc Italian policy.

Details

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, vol. 26 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1355-2554

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Article
Publication date: 31 May 2019

Riccardo Ricci, Alessandra Colombelli and Emilio Paolucci

The purpose of this paper is threefold. It is aimed at identifying: a broad set of entrepreneurial activities; different university entrepreneurial models; and the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is threefold. It is aimed at identifying: a broad set of entrepreneurial activities; different university entrepreneurial models; and the entrepreneurial best practices of advanced European S&T universities.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper has adopted a mixed-method design. By mainly relying on primary data, collected through questionnaires and interviews with those in charge of the technology transfer offices of 20 universities belonging to the CESAER association, the empirical analysis has combined both quantitative and qualitative approaches.

Findings

The results of the empirical analysis have allowed five entrepreneurial activities to be identified. Three main entrepreneurial university models, based on different configurations of entrepreneurial activities, on different organisational and ecosystem characteristics and on a set of entrepreneurial best practices: an “engage” model, which focusses on local economic development; a “formal” model, which focusses on the financial advantage of universities and their faculties; and a “comprehensive” model, which focusses on the local economic development and the financial advantage of universities and their faculties.

Research limitations/implications

The first limitation of the present paper concerns the limited number of sampled universities. Moreover, this paper is limited to the European area. Future research could enlarge this study by increasing the number of universities and by focusing on other geographical areas. Furthermore, the paper does not assess the effectiveness of the identified entrepreneurial models in supporting entrepreneurship and local economic development. Further research could extend the present analysis and fill these gaps.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the extant literature under many respects. First, it relies on original primary data. Moreover, it extends previous literature by encompassing the conventional distinction between formal and informal entrepreneurial activities. It also contributes to the emerging literature on entrepreneurial university models and the strategic approaches by identifying the different models of entrepreneurial universities in the European setting of S&T universities focusing on the role played by organisational and regional factors in affecting the adoption of a specific model by universities.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 57 no. 12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2003

Mariano Corso, Antonella Martini, Emilio Paolucci and Luisa Pellegrini

To survive in the global economy small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have to improve their products and processes exploiting their intellectual capital in a dynamic…

Abstract

To survive in the global economy small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have to improve their products and processes exploiting their intellectual capital in a dynamic network of knowledge‐intensive relations inside and outside their borders. By erasing traditional constraints to SMEs innovation ability and leveraging their flexibility and responsiveness, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) provide SMEs with opportunities for Knowledge Management (KM) today in most cases largely unexploited. Focusing on the area of Product Innovation (PI) and drawing evidence from the analysis of a multiple‐case study on 47 Italian SMEs, patterns in the adoption and use of new ICT tools are explained in relation both to Contingencies and to KM internal processes. Complexity at both product and system levels, emerges as a key factor driving technological choices. Three different KM configurations emerge in relation to ICT approaches. Implications of this study are relevant for both SMEs managers and ICT developers/vendors.

Details

Integrated Manufacturing Systems, vol. 14 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-6061

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Article
Publication date: 7 September 2015

Elisabetta Raguseo, Emilio Paolucci and Paolo Neirotti

The purpose of this paper is to understand the contextual conditions under which mobile forms of work are chosen by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the most…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to understand the contextual conditions under which mobile forms of work are chosen by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the most relevant tensions that these firms should be able to face in order to be successful in the adoption of these forms of work.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey analysis on 304 SMEs and an analysis of a collection of case studies were conducted to answer to the following research questions: what is the role of contextual conditions in shaping the way firms develop and use their mobile forms of work? Which tensions do SMEs need to manage when adopt a particular mobile form of work?

Findings

In this paper, the authors found that SMEs choose different mobile forms of work according to the conditions under which they operate. For example, SMEs that adopt mobile forms of work for operational reasons are more capable of using IT to improve their external orientation. Moreover, the analysis of the configurations of mobile forms of work led to classify in a systematic way the managerial and organizational tensions, and to identify which tensions need to be managed in each mobile work configuration. For example, firms that adopt mobile work given individual employee requests need to manage human resource management tensions.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should analyse in depth the jobs that are frequently engaged in mobility and the operational and strategic reasons of their mobility. Moreover, future research should analyse more in-depth companies’ capability of managing tensions discussed in this paper.

Practical implications

Managers should understand that mobile work is an essential element in the organizational strategy of SMEs, since it is a way to manage more effectively externally oriented business processes. Also policy makers should provide financial support for programmes aimed at promoting the importance of mobile forms of work, since they allow achieving different objectives and saving. Further, demand-oriented policies and experiences about mobile work adoption should be shared.

Originality/value

The authors found scant empirical evidence on understanding the contextual conditions under which SMEs choose different mobile forms of work, and the most relevant tensions that SMEs should deal with when they decide for the adoption of a particular mobile work configuration. The value of this paper consists in filling this research gap.

Details

Business Process Management Journal, vol. 21 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-7154

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Book part
Publication date: 11 November 2019

Teresina Torre and Daria Sarti

This chapter aims to build a systematization of the current theoretical and empirical academic contributions on smart working (SW) in the organization studies domain and…

Abstract

This chapter aims to build a systematization of the current theoretical and empirical academic contributions on smart working (SW) in the organization studies domain and to examine which are the main paths that researchers are concerning themselves with, with specific attention being paid to the new meaning that the work itself has acquired in the model proposed by SW. Particular consideration is devoted to an analysis of the characteristics of the present debate on this construct and the meaning of SW, identifying two different – and contrasting – approaches: one considers it as a totally new concept; the other is notable for its continuity with previous arrangements such as telework. Further, some relevant concepts, strictly related to that of SW in working environments are considered. In the last part of the chapter, some key points for further research are proposed to create stimuli for discussion in the community of organization studies and HRM scholars and among practitioners, given from the perspective of deepening the change in progress, the relevance for which there is general consensus.

Details

HRM 4.0 For Human-Centered Organizations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-535-2

Keywords

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