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This study empirically assesses the relationship between open innovation, exploration, and exploitation activities in the context of the internationalization process of SMEs in the fruit and vegetable sector from Northern Valle del Cauca, Colombia. Considering that SMEs generally lack the resources and skills to arrange the entire innovation process, they must be open to external sources to innovate and seek internationalization strategies. The exercise has been based on a sample of 102 SMEs and the determination of a partial least squares structural equation model (PLS-SEM) to test a series of research hypotheses. The findings confirm a positive and significant relationship between exploration and exploitation activities with open innovation, with this relationship being much more robust in exploitation activities. However, a relationship between open innovation and internationalization could not be verified. These findings suggest that internationalization is not a consequence of open innovation but instead finds enablers in public policies and the consolidation of the National Agricultural Innovation System (NAIS) regarding the case discussed here. In the literature, there is a lack of studies in the field of research.

Tulio Ferney Silva Castellanos, Universidad del Valle

Professor, Faculty of Administration Sciences, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia. Business Administrator, Master’s Degree in Organizational Sciences, Universidad del Valle, Colombia.

Fernando Echeverry Valencia, Universidad del Valle

Professor, Faculty of Administration Sciences, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia. Lawyer, Private Economic Law Specialist, Universidad Santo Tomás de Aquino, Colombia.

Luis Felipe Bocanegra Henao

Aprocol General Manager, La Victoria, Colombia. Agricultural Engineer, Universidad del Valle, Colombia.

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