Can Small Firms Innovate? The Case of Clusters of Small Producers in Northern Vietnam

Jaap Voeten, Job de Haan and Gerard de Groot

in Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Economic Development

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199596515
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729133 | DOI:

Series: WIDER Studies in Development Economics

Can Small Firms Innovate? The Case of Clusters of Small Producers in Northern Vietnam

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This chapter has two aims: the first is methodological and the second is empirical. The methodological part of the chapter discusses innovation concepts, their relevance to SMEs in developing countries, and the ways in which they can be operationalized in qualitative research. Empirically the chapter considers handicraft clusters in four Vietnamese villages, which have introduced innovations that are new to the firm, allowing the firms to upgrade production and enter export markets. The chapter applies criteria for innovation to four rich qualitative case studies and concludes that real innovation takes place in three of the four cases. Innovative success was achieved in spite of the lack of systematic support or technology transfer from outside the cluster. The chapter concludes that the Vietnamese system of innovation system is still rather underdeveloped. It did not provide much support to the entrepreneurs in the cluster.

Keywords: innovation; small enterprises; clusters; value chains; Vietnam

Chapter.  9920 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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