rather they are usually financially constrained and

rather
than at the NPD project level, remaining silent on the multiple contingencies
inherent in any NPD project that may potentially influence the implementation
of an open strategy. Only recently some studies have investigated the drivers
influencing open innovation decisions at different levels of the project
organizational structure: Lichtenthaler (2011) has tried to develop a
conceptual framework to provide the foundation for discussing critical open
innovation processes and their implications for managing open innovation at the
organizational, project, and individual level, and Bahemia and Squire (2010)
have defined open innovation as a multidimensional construct made up of breath,
depth and ambidexterity whose balanced combination is shaped at the NPD level
by considering the types of innovation (radical versus incremental), product
complexity (discrete versus complex) and the appropriability regime (tight
versus weak). These theories have outlined the need for managers to address
multiple determinants of open innovation at distinctive levels to facilitate
the development of organizational capabilities as key success drivers for
innovation and growth.

In this framework, Gassmann,
Enkel and Chesbrough (2010) have underlined how it has become apparent smaller
and medium-sized firms have been opening up their innovation processes in the
last years. SMEs traditionally encounter severe obstacles in their path toward
innovation as they are usually financially constrained and do not possess
complementary assets needed to commercialize the innovative technologies they
develop (Colombo, Laursen, Magnusson, & Rossi-Lamastra, 2012), but some of
them have been able to overcome their “liability of smallness” (Freeman,
Carroll, & Hannan, 1983) by opening up their innovation process and have
found a source of competitive advantage in the protection and leveraging of
their intellectual property. Some experts have provided managers of SMEs with
guidelines for suggesting suitable organizational structures and managerial
practices for the interaction of SMEs with third parties, aimed to facilitate
the development and commercial exploitation of technological knowledge. These
considerations become particularly crucial in family SMEs, where there is
accumulating evidence that family involvement in businesses leads to
distinctive objectives and sets of assumptions for managers about the way
organizations should work, and these cognitive frameworks influence the family
firm managers’ behavioral processes (Kotlar, De Massis, Frattini, Bianchi,
& Fang, 2013).

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Family firms are different from
non-family enterprises in the way they operate and are governed (Cassia, De
Massis, & Pizzurno, 2012). Past research indicates that family firms follow
particularistic goals such as keeping authority and control in the hands of the
family; behaving altruistically with other family members; fulfilling the
family members’ sense of belonging, affection, and intimacy; and growing the
prestige and reputation of the family. These noneconomic, Ambra Mazzelli
Research Proposal: Innovation Management in Family SMEs

5

 

family-centered
goals create utilities that are important to family firm managers because they
create socioemotional wealth for the family (Gómez-Mejía, Haynes, Núñez-Nickel,
Jacobson, & Moyano- Fuentes, 2007). Moreover the overlapping between
business and ownership in family firms gives family governance and management
unique characteristics such as personalization of authority, lower pressure for
transparency and disclosure, informal decision-making processes and less
organized organization and coordination structure that also affect goal
setting. (Kotlar & De Massis, 2013).

In this particular framework,
only few studies have tried to understand how the family element could impact
on innovation management. Some researchers have observed that family SMEs tend
generally to invest less in product innovation due to the high agency costs.
Kotlar, De Massis, Frattini, Bianchi and Fang (2013) have tried to understand
the behavioral drivers of external technology acquisition in family and
nonfamily firms, showing that managers in family firms are generally more
reluctant to acquire external technology, but they become more favorable to
considering the adoption of an open approach to technology development when
some protection mechanisms increase the managers’ perceptions of control over
the technology trajectory. Cassia, De Massis and Pizzurno (2012) have
investigated the relationship between the presence of the family variable
within a business enterprise and the managerial factors affecting the success
of new product development showing how family businesses were inclined to
originate NPD project with long-term thrust.

However, what emerges, is a
lack of a global overview about the effect of family element on innovation
management in SMEs. No insights are available about the effect of family
governance and management on technological acquisition and other strategic
decisions at new product development level. Moreover, previous research about
innovation in family firms have mostly examined the link of family involvement
to innovation inputs and outputs and relying on predetermined theoretical
frameworks such as agency theory and transaction costs economics. Further
empirical and theoretical studies seem to be necessary in order to find new
insights and statistically generalized previous findings.

Research Design and
Methodology

In order to generate novel
insights in both innovation management and family SMEs fields and answer the
fundamental research questions herein presented, this study will primarily rely
on the collection of quantitative data aimed at producing empirical analysis of
a topic of interest that may be generalized to a larger population. In order to
test hypotheses and theories about the effects of firm size and family element
on innovation activities performance and external technology Ambra Mazzelli
Research Proposal: Innovation Management in Family SMEs

6

 

acquisition
at both firm and new product development level, the methodologies developed by
(Cooper & Edgett, 2012) in the context of product innovation management
will be adopted by implementing the following actions:

?
Population definition and sample selection: the choice of population will be
crucial, because it defines the set of entities from which the research sample
is to be drawn, controls extraneous variation and helps to define the limits
for generalizing the findings. Representative samples of English firms quite
distributed among all industrial sectors will be primarily chosen as reference
for the analysis, but I hope to be able to further enlarge this sample by
leveraging on resources and people working at the IEED. This should allow me to
build multi-national samples to account, for example, for the effect of
different national patent regimes on the extent of external technology
acquisition, and that of regulation and institutional pressure on innovation
management performance. Manufacturing industry will be initially averted
because in such industries firms’ products typically embrace elements or
subsystems developed by other players (Kotlar J. , De Massis, Frattini,
Bianchi, & Fang, 2013).

?
Collection of quantitative data using existing databases, but also detailed
questionnaires, surveys and, where needed, site visits in order to obtain
information about different practices at business unit level in wide range of
manufacturing sub-sectors.

?
In-depth analysis of a set of businesses identified for their exceptional
practices in order to generate the basis for a valid benchmarking study.

? Final empirical analysis, by
developing a model based on the comparison between best and worst performers in
order to investigate relationships and correlations between relevant variables
previously identified and finally test the hypotheses.

 

Timescale

Below is a breakdown of the
research project processes and its estimated time. A total of approximately
four years is required to produce the expected output consisting in three
research articles. Process

Time

Expected Output

Literature Review

First year

Draft Literature Review

Methodology Acquisition

First and Second year

Knowledge about Research Design and Methodology