The 'voice' approach of trade associations: support for SMEs accessing a research institute

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Access to external sources of technical knowledge is one of the keys to staying innovative for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The literature suggests that SMEs with a weak internal R&D capacity do not make much use of institutional sources like research institutes and universities. In this paper I investigate how trade associations can induce member SMEs to use a research institute. The case of a public research institute and SMEs in the textile industry in Kyoto, Japan is examined. Evidence from the case suggests that trade associations facilitate the use of the institute by expressing a collective `voice' to the management of the institute. The effect is evident among active members in the use of services involving a large information gap as to their benefits. I also consider a shortcoming of the collective approach and suggest some measures to be taken on the part of research institutes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-454
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironment and Planning C
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • access to external sources
  • technical knowledge
  • small and medium-sized enterprises
  • internal R&D capacity
  • research institutes
  • universities
  • trade associations


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