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The Swedish SMEs’ road to sustainable innovation: A qualitative multiple case study on how Swedish SMEs use, and can use, open innovation to promote innovative sustainability initiatives
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Business Administration. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Business Administration. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Background: 20% of the world's population is responsible for about 80% of the life-cycle impacts of consumption and the per-capita footprint of developed countries is at least double than that of developing countries. This is why there is an urgent need for companies in industrialized countries to find more sustainable production methods and encourage sustainable consumption. Global sustainability trends drive innovation, which is why it is important to study how companies use, and can use, innovation to be more sustainable. Despite the will to work sustainably innovative, many SMEs today face resource constraints that hinder them from doing so - a problem that in part can be mitigated by open innovation. In Sweden today, however, open innovation is not widely used, especially not amongst SMEs.

Purpose: This study aims at mapping how Swedish SMEs currently work with open innovation in order to promote innovative sustainability initiatives, and how they could do it.

Methodology: This is a qualitative multiple case study in which seven cases have been studied and compared. The study is based on the hermeneutic philosophical standpoint, with an abductive approach. The empirical data consists of seven semi-structured interviews with representatives from seven different Swedish SMEs, from different industrial sectors.

Conclusion: This study concludes that Swedish SMEs mainly work with inbound open innovation in the form of sourcing information from customers and/or suppliers. It is also found that outbound open innovation is used to a lesser extent among the studied SMEs. The study proposes that more cross-sectoral collaboration can be beneficial. Furthermore, it is established that clearer methods for, and more knowledge about, open innovation could increase the use of it, and thus the benefits of it. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 82
Keywords [en]
Sustainability, open innovation, SMEs, sustainable innovation, resources
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-159841ISRN: LIU-IEI-FIL-A--19/03089--SEOAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-159841DiVA, id: diva2:1345480
Subject / course
Master Thesis in International Business and Economics Programme (Business Administration)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-09-19 Created: 2019-08-25 Last updated: 2019-09-19Bibliographically approved

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