Digitization and Knowledge Spillover Effectiveness—Evidence from the “German Mittelstand”
- 2 Downloads
The knowledge spillover theory of entrepreneurship (KSTE) considers determinants of knowledge diffusion as well as their impact on entrepreneurial activities and growth. Extending the KSTE, the role of incumbent firms for the broad diffusion of new knowledge has been emphasized. For those firms, the barriers to an effective flow of information are considered using the concepts of knowledge filters and absorptive capacities. Both concepts enable the derivation of institutional measures to penetrate knowledge filters and systematically increase absorptive capacities. We interpret the process of digitization as a central process of knowledge spillover in recent years and determine digitization-related knowledge filters for particular domains of firm decision-making. Using a consultant-based in-depth evaluation of 200 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) conducted in the context of a federal innovation program, structural drivers, firm clusters, and domain-specific knowledge filters for digitization are determined. We find little evidence for structural drivers of knowledge spillover effectiveness. However, as firms are clustered according to their digitization pattern, we show that firms realize high degrees of digitization in most domains or in none, leading us to argue that domain-specific knowledge filters are weak. Rather, knowledge spillover in digitization can be considered a process with initially strong general knowledge filter and—once this filter has been penetrated—weaker subsequent domain-specific knowledge filters. Policy and managerial implications for increasing digitization-related knowledge spillovers in SMEs are discussed.
KeywordsDigitization Knowledge filter Knowledge spillover theory of entrepreneurship Small and medium enterprises
JEL ClassificationD21 D82 H41 K23 L14
The questionnaire and its application by consultants of the craft organizations are financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).
- Acs, Z. J., Audretsch, D. B., Braunerhjelm, P., & Carlsson, B. (2004). The missing link: the knowledge filter and endogenous growth (discussion paper). Stockholm: Center.Google Scholar
- Audretsch, D. B. (1995). Innovation and industry evolution. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Bharati, P., & Chaudhury, A. (2015). SMEs and competitiveness: The role of information systems. Bharati, P. and Chaudhury, A.(2009),“SMEs and Competitiveness: The Role of Information Systems”, International Journal of E-Business Research, 5(1).Google Scholar
- Cha, K. J., Hwang, T., & Gregor, S. (2015). An integrative model of IT‐enabled organizational transformation: A multiple case study. Management Decision, 53(8), 1755–1770.Google Scholar
- Doherty, N. F., & King, M. (2005). From technical to socio‐technical change: Tackling the human and organizational aspects of systems development projects. European Journal of Information Systems, 14(1), 1–5.Google Scholar
- Hinings, B., Gegenhuber, T. & Greenwood, R. (2018). Digital innovation and transformation: An institutional perspective. Information and Organization, 28(1), 52–61.Google Scholar
- Li, L., Su, F., Zhang, W., & Mao, J. Y. (2018). Digital transformation by SME entrepreneurs: A capability perspective. Information Systems Journal, 28(6), 1129–1157.Google Scholar
- Proeger, T. (2018). Knowledge spillovers and absorptive capacity - institutional evidence from the ‘German Mittelstand’. Journal of the Knowledge Economy, 1–28. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13132-018-0539-8.
- Proeger, T. & Rupieper, L.K. (2019). Asymmetrische Information auf dem Handwerksmarkt – eine qualitative Analyse. Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftspolitik, 68(2), 149–182.Google Scholar
- Qian, H., & Jung, H. (2017). Solving the knowledge filter puzzle: absorptive capacity, entrepreneurship and regional development. Small Business Economics, 1(48), 99–114.Google Scholar
- Runst, P., Bartelt, K., Fredriksen, K., Meyer-Veltrup, L., Pirk, W. & Proeger, T. (2018). Der Digitalisierungsindex für das Handwerk. Eine ökonomische Analyse des Digitalisierungs-Checks des Kompetenzzentrums Digitales Handwerk. Göttinger Beiträge zur Handwerksforschung (Heft 24). Göttingen.Google Scholar
- Sussan, F., & Acs, Z. J. (2017). The digital entrepreneurial ecosystem. Small Business Economics, 49(1), 55–73.Google Scholar