Inderscience Publishers

Acquisition of technological knowledge in small and medium-sized manufacturing companies in Sweden

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Small and medium sized manufacturing companies in Sweden are facing an increasing demand for high competence in their technical functions and processes as more and more of them have to supply a globalised market. National organisations like the "National Board for Technical Development", as well as the European Union (EU) and regional funds are spending large resources to help SMEs to increase their competence. This paper takes the small company's perspective and describes what sources the SMEs are using to acquire scientific and technical knowledge and especially how they interact with the national system of technology development and transfer. This description is based on a survey of 509 small and medium sized Swedish manufacturing companies. From a factor analysis, six strategies for mobilising technical knowledge are identified, related to suppliers, research institutes, local sources, customers, or business and technology advisors, or mixed strategies. Differences between the companies with different strategies, in terms of e.g. size, and areas of renewal are analysed and degrees of innovativeness are discussed. In-depth studies of 40 of the most innovative of these companies give a further understanding of the processes behind the need for, and acquisition of, technological knowledge.

Keywords: technology transfer, collaboration strategies, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), manufacturing, Sweden, innovation, knowledge

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