Innovation capabilities and export performance in manufacturing SMEs

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Joaquin Alegre
José Luis Ferreras-Méndez
Anabel Fernández-Mesa
Roger Strange


Export performance has become an increasingly important issue for SMEs in recent years as a result of the widespread phenomenon of globalization and the economic recession in some regions. Innovation has been proved to play a determinant role in export performance. In this paper, we propose a new comprehensive conceptualisation of innovation capabilities for manufacturing firms that includes capabilities in three key areas for innovation activities: technology, marketing and design. Using a database on Spanish manufacturing SMEs, we check the validity and reliability of this new innovation capabilities conceptualisation and then we test its effect on export performance. We find that those firms that are proficient in technology, marketing and design show higher levels of export performance. These findings are important for the innovation and internationalisation literature as well as for SME managers: emphasising technology, marketing and design contributes to facilitating SMEs’ performance in the international arena.

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Alegre, J., Ferreras-Méndez, J. L., Fernández-Mesa, A., & Strange, R. (2022). Innovation capabilities and export performance in manufacturing SMEs. Tec Empresarial, 16(3), 55–71.