Technological Innovation: Higher Education, Small Manufacturing Enterprises Growth and the Five (i) Technological Development Model In Kenya
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: In Less Developed Countries (LDCs), most graduates from higher institutions learning are absorbed in the informal sector and/or micro and small enterprises. Knowledge development through training, research and experiential learning may lead to creating or discovering new knowledge/technology or creating new value by applying knowledge/technology to societal or business challenges. While the Small Manufacturing Enterprises (SMEs) do not have the capacity to develop knowledge through Research and Development (R&D), it is not clear how universities and institutions of higher learning should help bridge this gap. There is need to develop strategies that enhance acquisition and development of technologies among SMEs in LDCs that in turn makes them competitive in the global market. This paper explores the five (i)s Importation, Imitation, Improvement, Innovation and invention in technology acquisition and development by SMEs and the role played by institutions of higher learning in Kenya. The discourse is informed by primary data collected from 137 SME owner/managers sampled from five (5) municipalities in Kenya and tested using the production function theory that seeks to establish interrelationships between the variables technology Importation, Imitation, Improvement, Innovation and Invention among SMEs in Kenya and the extent to which they influence enterprise growth. Real life Cases are used to illustrate this discourse. The paper establishes significant relationships and concludes that for Kenya and other LDCs to become knowledge based economies, SMEs have to be looped in through empowerment and capacity building, roles universities and institutions of higher learning should brace themselves to undertake. For the SMEs to be innovative and technologically savvy, the five (i) model would come in handy. The government support policies should facilitate the models application and use.