Inderscience Publishers

Technology and business opportunities for small and medium enterprises in Japan: the role of research networks

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Industrial technology contributes significantly to the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Japan. Driven by an intense competitive environment, businesses in Japan must continuously innovate to benefit from industrial technologies. As technological complexity increases, Japanese firms have to develop flexible knowledge acquisition and technology development methods. Collaborations and linkages with external organisations for industrial technology development and acquisition are important especially in the early growth stages of the firm. This paper analyses the results of a survey conducted in 407 companies and 20 in-depth case studies to assess the technology development needs of SMEs in Japan. The results show that capital and human resources are the major impediments to SMEs' efforts in new industrial technology development and the firms are increasingly relying on external knowledge sources to build up their technological competencies. The study describes the environment that influences the formation of such tie-ups for new products and technology development in SMEs. The results show that research links with external collaborators and knowledge networks are critical for the next phase of industry technology development in Japanese firms.

Keywords: industrial technology, innovation, research and development management, small and medium enterprises, SMEs, Japanese innovation, industrial corporations, Japan

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