Levels of innovation within SMEs in peripheral regions: The role of business improvement initiatives

Richard Harris, Rodney McAdam, Irene McCausland, Renee Reid

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    23 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: The aim of this paper is to investigate the effectiveness of business improvement methods (BIM/TQM) in contributing to innovation implementation in SMEs within peripheral regions. Design/methodology/approach: A survey with responses from 606 SMEs in the North West European peripheral regions was administered. The survey explores the role of a range of business improvement methods (BIM/TQM) as an antecedent or stimulant in helping to achieve three levels of effective innovation implementation: introducing new products/services; engaging in innovation that resulted in major product/service innovation (radical), and engaging in innovation activities that did not result in major product innovation (incremental), and non-innovative. Findings: The findings show that BIM/TQM was likely to stimulate and encourage the development of incremental levels of innovation in the SMEs where there was an emphasis on the people, or organic aspects of BIM/TQM applied, rather than more mechanistic BIM/TQM approaches. However, there was a lack of a clear link between BIM/TQM and radical innovation where newness in products/services and markets was required. Originality/value: There is a paucity of studies that probe the effectiveness of applying business improvement methods in stimulating innovation implementation, especially in peripheral regions and involving multiple levels of innovation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)102-124
    Number of pages23
    JournalJournal of Small Business and Enterprise Development
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Feb 2013

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


    • Business improvement
    • Innovation
    • Peripheral regions
    • Small to medium-sized enterprises
    • Survey


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