Evaluation of SME relationships for open innovation: proposal of the artifact ‘Innovation Network Assessment Tool’ (INAT)





open innovation, small and medium-sized enterprises, design science research, relationship network


Objective: This research aims to develop an artifact that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can use to assess their network of relationships and identify partners for open innovation projects.

Methodology/approach: The Design Science Research (DSR) method was used to create the artifact, which is based on a theoretical model that incorporates three mechanisms for analyzing interorganizational relationships: richness, receptivity, and reach. Three tests were run on the artifact during development. Afterwards, an evaluative test was conducted with four companies to determine whether the developed artifact met its objective and had good operation and presentation.

Originality/value: In the absence of similar tools addressing the same class of problem, a new artifact was proposed, allowing SME managers to analyze their relationships and plan new open innovation projects.

Main results: According to preliminary evaluations, the artifact is adequate for understanding which partners can participate in an innovation project and how to channel resources, however, it needs to be supplemented with other tools that allow knowing the partners.

Theoretical/methodological contributions: As the research's main contribution, we present an operational artifact that is functional and well received by managers and has the potential to be used as an auxiliary tool in open innovation projects developed by SMEs.

Social/management contributions: As an implication for the field of open innovation in SMEs, we consider the identification of the problem and the proposal of an artifact as a relevant formulation for raising new hypotheses and developing subsequent artifacts.


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Author Biographies

Victor dos Reis Wolffenbüttel, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul / Porto Alegre, RS

MBA in Project Management

Douglas Wegner, Dom Cabral Foundation

Ph.D. in Business Administration

Silvio Bittencourt da Silva, University of the Vale do Rio dos Sinos / São Leopoldo, RS

Ph.D. in Business Administration


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How to Cite

Wolffenbüttel, V. dos R., Wegner, D., & Silva, S. B. da. (2023). Evaluation of SME relationships for open innovation: proposal of the artifact ‘Innovation Network Assessment Tool’ (INAT). International Journal of Innovation, 11(1), e22374. https://doi.org/10.5585/2023.22374