Inter-organizational collaboration and SMEs' innovation: a systematic review and future research directions

Nadia Zahoor, Omar Al-Tabbaa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Inter-organizational collaboration (IOC) has gained increased attention in research and practice given its documented influence on the innovation of small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs). Regardless of the growing number of studies, there is still lack of research that scrutinizes and synthesizes this body of knowledge. This paper undertakes a systematic review of 113 studies from 2000 to 2019 to analyze research trends and findings on the nature and dynamics of IOC-innovation relationship in SMEs domain. Based on this analysis, we develop a framework grounded in selected theoretical lenses and empirical findings to advance our understanding of key antecedents, mediators, moderators and outcomes. We highlight that extant theories are deployed and illustrated but rarely extended in a manner that significantly informs subsequent work. Furthermore, we identify that innovation is a complex process that involves different mechanisms. On that basis, we have identified several research gaps and provided a future research agenda that we mapped into four dimensions: theory, phenomenon, methodology and context.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101109
JournalScandinavian Journal of Management
Issue number2
Early online date16 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020


  • collaborative innovation
  • innovation
  • inter-organizational collaboration
  • SMEs
  • systematic review


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