Technological diversification within UK’s small serial innovators

Carlo Corradini*, Pelin Demirel, Giuliana Battisti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper investigates the determinants of technological diversification among UK’s small serial innovators (SSIs). Using a longitudinal study of 339 UK-based small businesses accounting for almost 7000 patents between 1990 and 2006, this study constitutes the first empirical examination of technological diversification among SMEs in the literature. Results demonstrate that technological diversification is not solely a large firm activity, challenging the dominant view that innovative SMEs are extremely focused and specialised players with little technological diversification. Our findings suggest a nonlinear (i.e. inverse-U-shaped) relationship between the level of technological opportunities in the environment and the SSIs’ degree of technological diversification. This points to a trade-off between processes of exploration and exploitation across increasingly volatile technology regimes. The paper also demonstrates that small firms with impactful innovations focus their innovative activity around similar technological capabilities while firms that have introduced platform technologies in the past are more likely to engage in technological diversification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-177
Number of pages15
JournalSmall Business Economics
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2016. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.


  • diversification
  • small serial innovators
  • SME
  • technological opportunity
  • relatedness
  • fractional response model


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