Relationships and partnerships in small companies: strengthening the business through external agents

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This article aims to understand the relationships between small companies and external innovation agents and how they can help strengthening these organisations. A multiple case research method was adopted by the researchers and applied to small companies which presented innovative practices. The data collection included documents, records and interviews with managers/business owners. Such interviews were recorded and coded using the NVivo 10 software. The results showed relationships of trust, partnership and learning. The article contributes to the idea that small companies recognize the importance of external knowledge sources in their business and innovation strategies. Companies believe in these relationships in order to bring essential competencies to their business, and continuously renovate themselves through shared feedback. This in turn leads to the capture of financial and technological resources as well as market and competitive information that strengthens the business and allows it to overcome its limitations.

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