Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation,
Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies

No 446: Disentangling Innovation in Small Food Firms: The role of External Knowledge, Support, and Collaboration

Sofia Wixe (), Pia Nilsson , Lucia Naldi and Hans Westlund
Additional contact information
Sofia Wixe: Centre for Entrepreneurship and Spatial Economics (CEnSE), Jönköping International Business School, Sweden
Pia Nilsson: Centre for Entrepreneurship and Spatial Economics (CEnSE), Jönköping International Business School, Swede
Lucia Naldi: Centre for Family Enterprise and Ownership (CeFEO ), Jönköping International Business School, Sweden
Hans Westlund: Centre for Entrepreneurship and Spatial Economics (CEnSE), Jönköping International Business School, & KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Abstract: This paper applies unique survey data on innovation and external interaction of small food producers in Sweden. The overall purpose is to test if firms that are more engaged in external interaction are more innovative. To disentangle innovativeness beyond new goods and services, innovation is measured as new processes, new markets, new suppliers, new ways of organization, and new distributors. Findings point to a positive relationship between firm innovation and external interaction, both in terms of collaboration, external knowledge and support from regional actors. In particular, collaboration regarding transports and sales is shown to enhance most types of innovation. Product and process innovation benefit from external knowledge from extra-regional firms as well as regional support from the largest firm. Findings suggest that current innovation policies can improve their efficiency by increasing their flexibility to enable tailor-made innovation policies at the local level.

Keywords: Innovation; collaboration; food industry; rural regions

JEL-codes: L25; L66; O31; R12

41 pages, January 16, 2017

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