An exploratory study of the factors determining product innovation of small and medium-sized French exporting enterprises: The key role of the absorption capacity

By Oksana Kantaruk Pierre, Raluca Mogos Descotes, Björn Walliser

The purpose of this research is to conduct an exploratory study of product innovation determinants in French exporting SMEs. The main originality of our study consists in the combination of two theoretical perspectives, in order to better understand the internal and external influences on product innovation in exporting SMEs: absorptive capacity and institutional profiles. The main findings of this study highlight the key role played by SMEs’ absorptive capacity dimensions in fostering new product development. Knowledge acquisition and assimilation seem to rely on business, technological and institutional knowledge in order to respond to environmental shifts and clients’ needs. Knowledge sharing through internal communication and collaboration contribute to a better knowledge transformation and exploitation. Product innovation seems to result from the exploitation phase of absorptive capacity. In sum, absorptive capacity appears to be a suitable framework for the study of internal product innovation determinants. Moreover, institutional profiles analysis grid offers a valuable perspective for a better understanding of external determinants of product innovation since public supporting mechanisms represent an incentive for developing innovation and foreign business activities. JEL Codes: O32, L25, L23


  • Product Innovation
  • Exporting SMEs
  • Absorptive Capacity
  • Institutional Profiles
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