Assimilation Patterns in the Use of Advanced Manufacturing Technologies in SMEs: Exploring their Effects on Product Innovation Performance
Manufacturing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are more and more adopting advanced manufacturing technologies (AMT) aimed at fostering product innovation process, improving product quality, streamlining the production process, and gaining productivity. In this study, we analyze the relationship between AMT proficiency levels in manufacturing SMEs and product innovation performance. Using data from 616 manufacturing SMEs, and considering a wide range of various AMT (20 different types of AMT grouped into 5 categories), we derived three AMT assimilation patterns through a cluster analysis procedure combining hierarchical and non-hierarchical clustering algorithms. The analysis of the relationship between AMT assimilation patterns and product innovation performance shows a rather unexpected picture: in spite of the existence of clearly distinct patterns of AMT assimilation, we find no significant relationship between any pattern and product innovation performance. Instead, we find the organizational and environmental context of SMEs to be more determinant for product innovation performance than any of the AMT assimilation patterns. From a practical point of view, this study indicates that manufacturing SMEs managers interested in fostering their innovation capabilities through AMT assimilation need to be aware of the contingency effects of their organizational size, age, and sector of activity.
Advanced manufacturing technology, information technology, product innovation, performance, small to medium-sized enterprise, SME