SMEs’ Innovation and Export Capabilities: Identification and Characterization of a Common Space Using Data Spatialization

Manon Enjolras, Mauricio Camargo, Christophe Schmitt


Numerous publications try to identify and test empirically the link between innovation and export to explain firms’ competitiveness. But it seems that several ways of thinking coexist, without a real consensus. This article proposes a different approach, by considering innovation and export not in terms of impact of the one on the other, but rather as two complementary activities mobilizing common capabilities (resources, skills, knowledge). These common capabilities represent the capabilities that a company needs to mobilize as a priority to improve its performance regarding innovation as well as export. This article aims to identify the common spaces between innovation and export in terms of current practices within SMEs. Initially, the innovation and export practices were identified in the literature and through a set of interviews with business managers. Then an analysis of similarity put forward the common practices between the innovation and export processes. A data spatialization shows that the common practices concern at least: (1) network management, (2) consideration of the customer, (3) the acquisition of information, (4) skills management, (5) the capitalization of knowledge, (6) the global strategy, (7) the follow-up of the projects, (8) the intellectual property, and finally (9) the corporate culture.


Export; Innovation; SME; capabilities; common space; data spatialization

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