خود اشتغالی و نوآوری بررسی عوامل موثر بر رفتار نوآورانه در کسب و کارهای کوچک
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|27397||2012||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||9660 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Research Policy, Volume 41, Issue 1, February 2012, Pages 178–189
This paper explores the determinants of innovation in small businesses from a survey of more than 700 self-employed workers in Andalusia (Spain). Self-employed people running businesses with and without employees were included in the study and two types of innovation – product and process innovation – were differentiated. The theoretical framework adopted distinguishes between three levels of factors affecting the innovative activities of the self-employed: (1) the personal characteristics of the self-employed – such as their motivations and their educational and professional background. (2) The organization characteristics – such as the sector, the number of employees, the dependence on suppliers or clients and the management styles. (3) The characteristics of the external environment. Education appears as a key factor whose impact on innovation comes through two main sources: its effect on self-employed motivations and its influence on the management style of small businesses. Also previous experience as an employee and the comparative level of income in the area where the business is located are shown to be influential factors explaining innovation. Though firm size favors innovation, it does not play a determining role. Furthermore, results show significant differences between the factors explaining product and process innovation. The determinants for innovation in small businesses also vary substantially across sectors.
In recent decades the self-employed component of the national labor-force has been gaining relevance in many developed economies and notable public efforts have been made to support entrepreneurship and innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Nevertheless, relevant gaps in knowledge still exist regarding the factors boosting innovation in small businesses and, consequently, regarding the most effective strategy to efficiently support this type of firms in their attempts at innovation. The aim of this work is to shed some additional light on these key issues. This paper studies the determinant of innovation in small businesses from the perspective of self-employment and doing so represents an unusual approach. The concept of ‘self-employment’ – despite the habitual use of this term – is rather elusive due to its mixed nature. On the one hand, it can be defined as the residual and heterogeneous category made up of paid employees not remunerated by a wage (Carrasco, 1999). On the other hand, self-employed people can be seemed as entrepreneurs who start up and/or run self-owned businesses. However, not all the self-employed are necessarily entrepreneurs (Robinson and Sexton, 1994), given that in many cases they run businesses that they did not found and carry out a conservative and unadventurous management. It is also convenient to distinguish between the category of self-employed people and business owners. The difference lies in the fact that business owners are not necessarily involved in the day-to-day operations of their company, since they can opt for hiring a professional manager and have other sources of income, such as paid-employees in other companies. So, from this perspective, all the self-employed people – even in the case of mere professionals without employees – are conceptually business owners, whereas business owners do not necessarily have to be self-employed workers. Moreover, the self-employed can run businesses with or without employees. In the first case, the resulting businesses are in the great majority small businesses, though there could be the case of medium or large companies owned and managed by self-employed people. In addition, not all the small businesses are necessarily led by self-employed people. On the contrary, small firms are in some cases part of large corporations or are headed by managers working as paid-employees. All these conceptual considerations are frequently neglected in research about SMEs and, specifically, about small businesses. This literature generally assumes the hypothesis that the SME's organization, management and performance are significantly influenced by the personal characteristics of the entrepreneur (in many cases not clearly defining what is exactly meant by entrepreneur). However, research in this field is very often based on surveys carried out among managers or business owners. This design of the empirical work could lead to some bias, in line with the considerations previously presented. This paper exclusively focuses on small businesses driven by the self-employed, hence many of those problems can be avoided. Throughout this article, self-employment is considered to be the category made up of people who draw their income from self-owned small businesses (with or without employees) that they operate personally. Therefore, under this definition the self-employed assume a triple role in their businesses: they are workers, managers and business owners. This conceptual delimitation is consistent with the empirical definition employed in the second part of the paper. Self-employed people will be identified then based on the Social Security Administration regulation. According to the Spanish Social Security regulation, a self-employed status is applicable to the “individuals who carry out, on a regular basis, personally, directly, by themselves and outside the scope of another person's management and organization, an economic or professional activity for profit, giving or not employment to other workers.” (Spanish Institute of Social Security, 2007). In this respect, the paper explores the determinants of innovation in small businesses – differentiating between product and process innovation – from a survey of about 750 self-employed workers in Andalusia, a region in the south of Spain. The paper is organized as follows. The second section reviews the literature about innovation in small businesses and presents the analytical framework adopted in this work to study the determinants of innovation activities by self-employed people. This theoretical framework gathers the main aspects influencing innovation activities in small businesses, distinguishing between three levels of factors: the personal characteristics of the self-employed people, the characteristics of their organizations and the characteristics of the external environment. The third section is devoted to the empirical analysis. The determinants of the innovative activities of the self-employed in the sample are investigated by means of estimating several logistic regressions. The last section puts forward the main conclusions and discusses some relevant policy implications.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Though many works have addressed the determinants of innovation in SMEs, the conclusions are not completely consistent and some aspects are still a matter of controversy. When studying SMEs and, especially, small businesses, the personal characteristics of the entrepreneur are generally assumed to play a primary role in the firm's performance. However, some conceptual and practical problems – when carrying out empirical research – arise regarding the delimitation of the entrepreneur/business owner/manager, as has been discussed in the introduction of this paper. In this respect, the current article adopts an original approach investigating the factors determining the innovative activities of self-employed people running small businesses. In this way, the problems mentioned are overcome, since it is easier to conceptually and empirically delimitate and identify the figure of the self-employed. From a conceptual perspective, the self-employed simultaneously assume three roles: they are business owners, managers and workers in the same firm. From an empirical perspective, the legal status represents a clear criterion to identify the self-employed. When considering innovation in this research, the classical distinction between product and process innovation is employed in order to check whether there might be differences in the factors behind these two types of innovations. The paper proposes an integrated framework to analyze innovation in small businesses, gathering those variables which have been more frequently considered in the literature and some others whose influence has been usually neglected. In this respect, three levels of explanatory factors for the innovation activities of small businesses are considered: the personal characteristics of the self-employed people, the organization characteristics and the characteristics of the external environment (though the paper focuses on the first two dimensions). Regarding the personal characteristics of the self-employed workers, the paper makes a contribution by studying the effect on innovation due to different types of motivations. To our knowledge, this factor have not been considered – or not thoroughly so – in previous studies about innovation activities in small businesses. In this respect, those self-employed who are moved by a sound intrinsic motivation have a higher probability of introducing innovations. Furthermore, the strength of extrinsic motivation is also shown to have a positive effect on innovation activities in the case of process innovations. On the contrary, those self-employed workers with a necessity motivation who start up a business as an alternative to escape from unemployment are less innovative than the rest. Another explanatory factor that has not merited sufficient attention in previous studies is the dependency of small businesses on special clients and suppliers. In this respect, on the one hand, dependency on the most important clients – due to a high concentration of the sales with them – is observed as negatively affecting the innovation behavior of self-employed workers, specifically regarding product innovation. The expression ‘false self-employed workers’ has been applied to this type of situation, in which certain firms externalize some activities hiring the services of self-employed workers who are completely dependent on the main firm. The objective in these cases is to avoid the obligation of paying social contributions or to escape from the applying of the labor laws. The results put forward in this paper seem to indicate that these self-employed workers have frequently no autonomy to change the characteristics of the goods or services they produce and they are often also poorly motivated to introduce innovations. Nevertheless, the empirical analysis carried out here points out education – both general and specific business education programs – as the major factor explaining the innovative behavior of self-employed people. Regarding this, the paper delves into the sources through which the general education level of the self-employed people affects the innovation activities in small businesses. This effect comes mainly from two channels: the personal motivations of self-employed people and their management style. In this respect, this study shows that those self-employed people with tertiary studies (university degree or formal high professional training) are more strongly motivated towards entrepreneurship and innovation. In addition, these self-employed people with a better educational background also develop an entrepreneurially oriented style of management, undertaking different energizing initiatives which boost innovation. Moreover, taking part in courses, seminars or other educational initiatives regarding entrepreneurship, management or issues especially connected with the activity that the self-employed workers develop also appears as a highly relevant issue favoring innovation behavior. Previous experience as an employee appears as well as a major determinant of innovation in small firms, regardless of this experience being obtained in the same or in a different sector. Furthermore, the results of this paper show that a management style which gives importance to cooperation, business planning and the control and forecasting of the firm's performance significantly favors innovation in small businesses. Firm size (in terms of number of employees) has a significant positive effect on innovation in small businesses too. However, this factor does not seem to play a determining role. Thus, the coefficients and the odd ratios for this variable are the smallest among the statistically significant explanatory variables for innovation and this ‘size’ effect diminishes as the number of employees increases. The latter is shown by the negative β coefficient for the square number of employees, which is also a statistically significant variable in the model. Finally, the external environment plays a crucial role in influencing innovation in small businesses. This factor has been introduced in this research just by means of a proxy variable related to the provincial level of per capita income. Hence, those self-employed workers in territories with high per capita income are associated with higher probabilities of being innovative. This conclusion is in line with a great part of the literature stressing the significance of the territorial dimension in innovation. However, the proxy variable used in this study is insufficient to identify the different types of spatial externalities through which the impact of this territorial dimension on innovation takes place. Though the main determinants of product and process innovation are basically the same, there are also interesting differences regarding some influential factors which are specific for each type of innovation. Thus, personal motivations seem to matter significantly for process innovation, but have no effect on product innovation. On the contrary, the variables regarding management practices exert a clear influence on product innovation, but are not relevant as determinants of process innovation. In addition, the firm's dependency on the most important client and/or supplier diminishes the probability of product innovations, but is irrelevant for process innovation. Likewise, the results indicate that the factors determining innovation in small businesses vary substantially across sectors. These results have direct implications for SME policy, specifically, for those actions aiming at stimulating innovation in small businesses. In this respect, in accordance with the conclusions put forward here, efforts to improve the educational background of self-employed people might increase innovation and favor an entrepreneurial orientation in small businesses. This applies to general education, but also to specific business education programs. Moreover, when specific incentives for innovation are introduced, it is convenient to concentrate them on those self-employed with previous work experience, and with a strong intrinsic or extrinsic motivation (but not target the necessity-driven entrepreneurs). In addition, actions aiming at fostering innovation in small businesses should be designed specifically for each sector, taking into account the key factors conditioning innovation in each activity. As mentioned before, a more thorough analysis of the external environment's influence on innovation activities in small businesses could be one possible extension of the analytical framework proposed in this paper. Also a more precise delimitation of different types of innovation might lead to relevant conclusions. In this respect, when considering product innovation, it could be interesting to differentiate between radical, incremental and small improvements in the firm's products. Similarly, regarding process innovation, it could be revealing to investigate the specific factors influencing this being radical, incremental or the mere adaptation or incorporation of existing technologies. Moreover, it could be interesting to distinguish between process innovations in the production, marketing, logistics, human resources or other functional areas of firm management.