Collaboration with strategically important and prestigious partners enhances SME performance

Strategic collaboration and exchanging resources with prestigious partners seems to attract more partners and customers, which, in turn, has a positive effect on the performance of small- and medium-sized enterprises, a new Finnish study shows. Published in Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, the study was conducted in collaboration between researchers from the University of Vaasa, Aalto University and the University of Eastern Finland.

SMEs often have limited resources at their disposal, and this is why companies aiming at rapid internationalisation should consider collaboration with others. The study explored the types of partner affiliations that are beneficial for companies.

The findings indicate that in order for SMEs to enhance their performance, they should build partnerships and networks around collaboration helping them to acquire strategic resources. Examples of such resources include product development expertise and access to distribution channels, which may be unique, rare and non-imitable. Furthermore, collaboration with prestigious partners and market leaders builds the credibility and identity of SMEs in their own networks.

According to Professor of International Business and Sales Mika Gabrielsson from the University of Eastern Finland, the resource-based theory sheds new, interesting light on corporate collaboration within SMEs, and the findings also have high managerial relevance.

“It seems that in addition to strategic exchange of resources, companies should also pay attention to reputation when selecting potential partners,” Professor Gabrielsson says.

According to Senior Researcher Jukka Partanen from the University of Vaasa, previous studies have shown that partner prestige and reputation are important especially in the early stages of a company.

“Our research shows that partner reputation continues to play a key role in an SME’s life also later on,” Senior Researcher Partanen says.

For further information, please contact:

Professor Mika Gabrielsson, University of Eastern Finland, tel. +358 50 568 7626, email: mika.gabrielsson(at)uef.fi

Research article:

Turning strategic network resources into performance: The mediating role of network Identity of small – and medium-sized enterprises” Jukka Partanen, Olli-Pekka Kauppila, Fabian Sepulveda, Mika Gabrielsson, available online at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/sej.1296

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