Roundtable 1: Enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs in the global economy through innovation
Roundtable 2: Partnership, clusters and SME globalisation
Roundtable 3: Realising the potential of electronic commerce for SMEs in the global economy
Roundtable 4: Enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs in transition economies and developing countries in the global economy and their partnerships with SMEs of OECD countries: strategies and policies
The development of SMEs increasingly depends on their capacity to put innovation at the core of their business strategy. However, while SMEs may enjoy an edge in flexibility and adaptability, they have limited resources. Many have not yet developed a culture of innovation. This workshop discussed the most important factors that influence incentives and capacities for innovation in SMEs, in order to identify how governments can lower the barriers to innovation, taking into account that innovation takes many forms and that there is an enormous heterogeneity among SMEs.
Globalisation and networking among firms have become major forces of economic change. The development of clusters or industrial districts is of great importance for strengthening the ability of SMEs to compete successfully at the international level while exploiting their traditional local strengths. In the context of the increasing international integration of markets for goods, services, capital and labour, this workshop addressed the shaping and role of clusters and inter-firm networks, the competitive advantages that can result, and the implications for public policy. It provided complementary perspectives - reflecting both what policy should entail and insights from practitioners concerned with the daily implementation of policy.
The advent of Internet-based electronic commerce offers major opportunities to SMEs to expand their customer base, enter new product markets and rationalise their business. While SMEs increasingly use the Internet for a variety of commercial and production-related purposes, barriers to SME adoption of electronic commerce remain. This workshop outlined the benefits to be gained from the use of electronic commerce by SMEs as well as the obstacles they face, and identified policy initiatives aimed at increasing SME awareness of the potential of electronic commerce and enhancing their ability to develop viable e-commerce strategies.
Increasing competitive pressures linked to globalisation are driving some SMEs in OECD countries to look for international partners in order to reduce costs and/or facilitate the development of competitive advantages. For SMEs in non-OECD economies, such international co-operation can open up new markets and provide access to new technologies and management know-how. While cross-border partnerships between SMEs in OECD and non-OECD countries offer potential advantages, they are strongly dependent on the presence of adequate policy and institutional conditions in countries concerned. This workshop set out to identify opportunities and obstacles to international co-operation among SMEs and to put forward policy recommendations for improved SME performance with a special view to promoting cross-border co-operation between OECD and non-OECD countries.