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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

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Published inthe Irish Marketing Review, Vol. 9, 1996, pp.87-97.


Innovation is crucial to the successful development of small to medium-sized enterprises- and SMEs themselves are key to the continuing growth of the economy. Yet the owner/managers of many SMEs perceive the existence of many barriers to innovation. Whether such obstacles are real or merely perceived makes little difference to the strategic management and marketing practice of these firms. To illustrate this problem, this article reports both quantitative and qualitative research about barriers to innovation in smaller firms. A postal survey of 375 owner/managers who empoly fewer than 50 people indicated these managers' views and concerns about a range of innovation-related issues such as high tax rates, innovation "costs" and cultural lethargy towards innovation. The owner/managers also suggested how such barriers to innovation might be overcome. These opinions were subsequently contrasted with those of officialdom, elicited from in-depth interviews with a sample of senior officials of state support agencies. This enabled some interesting observation and illumination about obstacle and possible incentives to greater levels of innovation in SMEs. A number of policy recommendations are proffered, including a suggestion that the state support agencies themselves be more innovatory in their approach.


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