Differences in Strategies and Performance of Different Types of Innovators
Statistics Canada Working Paper No. 102
30 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 1998
Date Written: December 1997
The strategies and competencies of small and medium-sized firms are explored here using the responses to the Survey of Growing Small and Medium Size Enterprises, conducted by Statistics Canada. The paper classifies small and medium-sized firms by innovator type and explores the complementary strategies in management, marketing, human resources and financing that are adopted by each innovator type and the success of each type of innovator. A taxonomy of innovative types is developed that is based on the product/process development orientation of the firm. Differences in competencies in the area of human resources, management, marketing and finance that are possessed by firms in each group are examined. Firms are classified into one of four groups?product innovators, comprehensive (product and process) innovators, process innovators, or non-innovators?based on their responses to 22 innovation-related questions on the survey. These groups correspond to different stages in the development of a product market. Product innovators occupy the first stage, the time when the product is initially introduced. Comprehensive innovators represent the second stage, when the product demand is still growing, and firms in addition to producing new products, have begun to make dramatic improvements in their production efficiencies, by concentrating on process innovations as well as product innovations. Process innovators represent the third phase in the development of a product market, when the product characteristics have become established, and firms seek to improve their market share mainly by improving their production efficiencies. Finally, the last phase is characterized by a relatively stable product line, with a mature production technology. The competencies of firms differ across these innovative types. Comprehensive innovators tend to develop greater capabilities than the other innovators in a wide range of areas. Comprehensive innovators also tend to outperform the other innovators in terms of growth in sales, market share, and employment size. Innovators also tailor their financial strategies to their innovator type. Product innovators focus on a low debt/asset strategy with non-standard sources like venture capital. In later stages of the innovation life cycle?comprehensive?place greater emphasis on higher debt/asset ratios. Firms move from being highly reliant on just innovative sources of financing to using both innovative and more traditional sources of financing. In the third stage, comprehensive innovators make more use of retained earnings and move back to lower debt/asset ratios and increase their use of bank financing.
JEL Classification: L10, L20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation