Asia Pacific Journal of Management

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 87–111 | Cite as

Efficiency-centered, innovation-enabling business models of high tech SMEs: Evidence from Hong Kong

  • Mark LoonEmail author
  • Roy Chik


High-technology small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are compelled to innovate to differentiate themselves from their competitors but at the same time be efficient, as they do not have economies of scale enjoyed by larger organizations. This qualitative study explores this paradoxical challenge faced by Hong Kong SMEs in designing their business model to strike such a balance. In doing so, it investigates the competencies of these firms in technology management and their innovation practices. It is found that third-party technologies that subscribe to international standards play a prominent role in the SME’s technology repertoire, as they are keen to leverage upon the effects of network externalities and other positive spillover effects. Although the firms’ business models enable product innovation, they also need to take efficiency into account to ensure that marketing and customer-intelligence are swiftly incorporated into their technology management and product development processes resulting in cyclic, incremental innovations. Our findings of efficiency-centered, innovation-enabling business models provide a more nuanced view of business model design in that efficiency and innovation need not be mutually exclusive. Four modalities of such business models are also identified: Focused, complementary, integrated innovation, and e-commerce-supported. These designs play an important role in enhancing product quality and performance, reducing time to market, developing new markets, and improving customer relationship and satisfaction.


Business models Efficiency-centered Novelty-centered Technology management Innovation Ambidexterity 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bath Business School and College of Liberal ArtsBath Spa UniversityBathUK
  2. 2.CAS Logistics Limited, Hong Kong Science & Technology ParkShatinPeople’s Republic of China

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