Cardoso, AFSP; Torkkeli, M;
Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology
Purpose: Low- and medium-technology sectors' (LMTs) role in modern economies has been overshadowed by the argument relating knowledge creation to R&D and thus to high-tech industries. Nevertheless, whereas a broader definition of innovation has enabled LMTs to emerge as innovative environments, a blind reliance on non-R&D-based indicators may be harmful too by neglecting LMTs' contribution to the development of cutting-edge, R&D-based knowledge. This paper aims to provide answers to the following questions: do LMTs innovate? Do they induce high-tech innovations across other sectors? Do networks have an impact on LMTs' innovation commitment? Can LMTs' innovation commitment be related to a better performance? Design/methodology/approach: The research method used in this work was based on a case study approach using in-depth face-to-face interviews with representatives from two footwear companies and one technology supplier. Findings: Collaboration with relevant stakeholders along the footwear value chain proved fundamental to the creation of innovation opportunities for all parties involved. Both footwear companies have embraced innovation strategies, allowing them to take over new functions along the value chain and build successful international paths. These strategies involved active participation in cutting-edge, high-tech knowledge prompting innovation at higher-tech companies too. Research limitations/implications: The paper fails to establish a clear causative relationship between companies' performance and their R&DI commitment. In addition, due to the number of companies involved in the study, the findings cannot be simply extrapolated to the whole Portuguese footwear sector. Originality/value: The paper highlights the commitment to innovation in a traditional sector and explores an underresearched topic - that of LMTs' involvement in R&D activities. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
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