Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Education
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Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Education

Frontiers in European Entrepreneurship Research

Edited by Ulla Hytti, Robert Blackburn and Eddy Laveren

Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Education explores the need for researching innovation and learning in family firms, micro firms, SMEs and in rural and network contexts. The chapters offer new insights into the antecedents of business performance in SMEs by investigating social capital and marketing capabilities. This book critically discusses innovation and entrepreneurship matters in new and varied contexts in Europe.
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Chapter 3: Speed of innovation and proximity in a rural context: the case of a manufacturing SME

Eva J.B. Jørgensen and Line Mathisen


In this study, we argue that speed of innovation is important for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in rural contexts because their location often restricts economies of scale and competing on price of delivery. We study speed of innovation with an emphasis on proximity between external actors and the firm. We use a qualitative single-case study approach to investigate the innovation process in a manufacturing SME within the plastic industry located in northern Norway. We investigate the speed in the development phase and the launching phase through retrospective informant stories. Our main findings are that dimensions, degree, and dynamics of proximity in relationships to external actors influence speed of innovation. For SMEs in rural contexts, geographical proximity varies across the different phases and actors, and is a foundation for the development of social and cognitive proximity. In addition, we found that social proximity is important to implement the opportunity potential in terms of cognitive proximity.

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