The International Consortium for Entrepreneurship (ICE) is a loose alliance of countries and organizations interested in doing cross-country coordinated research on entrepreneurship and innovation. One of the projects that ICE has identified for the year is to study the linkages between large and small firms in a richer way. This project is just getting scoped out and Chris Parsley from Industry Canada has taken the lead on developing the questionnaire and some of the proposed design. I find the questionnaires quite thurough and interesting. We would greatly appreciate feedback on the questionnaires or design. See more explanation from Chris below and the attached draft questionnaires.
I should emphasize that this is a draft and we are really hoping to get input from each of you so that the cases are all conducted with a common understanding of this project and what it is trying to achieve.
There were a number of perspectives expressed at the November meeting and I would venture to say that I have probably not captured all of them here.
The questionnaire is really two questionnaires: one for small firms and one for large firms. They are marked accordingly. Most of the questions are similar, but we have tried to capture small and large differences by posing specific questions to only one group.
The document is a mixture of objective questions and discussion questions. The idea is that we would send this “questionnaire” out ahead of time and schedule an interview to follow. The participants could then gather what objective data they need and would also have time to consider the discussion type questions. So I think it fairer to think of this as a protocol for interviews where we could explore in depth the nature of the strategic alliances between the large and small firms. Hence it is not a survey instrument in the usual sense but a tool designed to probe the subject in some detail recognizing that there will be differences between among specific cases.
Unit of analysis: One of the challenges in preparing this protocol is what we consider to be the unit of analysis. One possibility is the large firm, and the sum of its strategic alliances with small firms. A second possibility is a single alliance between a small firm and a large firm. In the latter case we would get more detail of specific arrangements, but we would have to interview both the large firm and the small firm and we would not know how general these practices are. Small firms are notoriously difficult to interview as they seem very time constrained. On the other hand, if the large firm is used as the unit of analysis we can gather more overall evidence and understand the large firm’s general strategy to alliances, but we will not have the small firm’s perspective, particularly on how it controls its IP. Since this project is about finding links between innovation and entrepreneurship it seems important to get the small firm perspective. To get around this problem the protocol has been constructed to examine both units of analysis. Some questions refer to the general pattern of alliances (section B for instance) and others (in sections C D E & F) ask both about all the small-large alliances in a firm and also about the particular alliance in question. This assumes therefore that we can interview the small firm. It may be the case that answers to every cell are not appropriate, but that has been anticipated.
Scope: At the meeting in November there seemed to be a consensus that we would be looking at strategic alliances between large and small firms that dealt with R&D and also learning. Joint ventures were excluded as were vendor-buyer agreements. Consequently we have tried to make this clear in the protocol. There was no agreement on which sectors to target, but it was noted that biotech and pharma could be fruitful sectors to explore. Depending on what input we receive it could be possible to coordinate among ICE members so that we get a good coverage of different sectors.
I would strongly encourage your feedback and we would be particularly appreciative of your comments regarding the following:
1) The approach outlined here
2) Ways to refine and improve the protocol.
3) Any suggestions as to possible cases in each of your countries
4) Any possible consultants (we anticipate a European consultant and a North American one - this is not the only possibility however. Again your thoughts would be appreciated. With more consultants it is even more critical that this protocol conveys a clear understanding of what we are after.)
5) Any other thoughts
Ideally we would like to have your input by February 27.
Linkages Questionnaire - small firms _3_.pdf (33.27 kb)
Linkages Questionnaire - large firms _3_.pdf (33.05 kb)