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A Biological Adaptability Approach to Innovation for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs): Strategic Insights from and for Health-Promoting Agri-Food Innovation

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McGill Centre for the Convergence of Health and Economics, McGill University, 3430 McTavish St., Montréal, QC H3A 1X9, Canada
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Department of Marketing, HEC Montréal, 3000 chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, Montréal, QC H3T 2A7, Canada
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4227; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104227
Received: 21 April 2020 / Revised: 11 May 2020 / Accepted: 20 May 2020 / Published: 21 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Economic, Business and Management Aspects of Sustainability)
Adaptability has emerged in management/entrepreneurship literature as a business strategy to innovate, perform, and respond in a flexible manner to ever-changing contexts. Contemporary culture blurs boundaries between physical, biological, and digital domains, accelerating what entrepreneurship in sectors such as agri-food contributes to societal-scale solutions to problems at the convergence of social and commercial activities. In this study, we build upon the adaptability of biological systems to propose an approach to innovation, anchored in a tight, dynamic alignment between the strategic DNA of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the contexts in which they evolve. Our model employs interviews and supporting archival research on the health-promoting innovation practices of 37 SMEs in the agri-food sector. A two-year, single firm analysis illustrates its relevance and operational feasibility. Evidence suggests that the strategic DNA of SMEs, seen through the entrepreneurs’ identity, informs behavior at various stages of the innovation process and the enterprise’s evolution. Shifting identity prioritization is a reality, and interaction between entrepreneurial organizations and the environment is best understood as an interaction between the DNA of the entrepreneur/enterprise and the environment. This is valuable and will help agri-food and other SMEs to improve their ability to make the internal and external strategic adjustments required in a rapidly changing landscapes to create viable health-promoting food products. View Full-Text
Keywords: innovation; SMEs; biological; adaptability; agri-food; Quebéc; northeastern United States innovation; SMEs; biological; adaptability; agri-food; Quebéc; northeastern United States
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Coghlan, C.; Labrecque, J.; Ma, Y.; Dubé, L. A Biological Adaptability Approach to Innovation for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs): Strategic Insights from and for Health-Promoting Agri-Food Innovation. Sustainability 2020, 12, 4227.

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