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Exploratory Study On Emerging Digital Technologies In SMEs

Do you want to graduate in a larger project together with other researchers? And perform research at several SMEs? And do you want to dive into the backgrounds of new, innovative digital technology? Then do your graduation assignment at the ‘Digital innovation in SMEs’ program, a collaboration of three Universities of Applied Sciences, two universities and a consortium of SME organizations.

In Q4 2022 we will start the research project ‘Exploratory Study on Emerging Digital Technologies in SMEs’. In the project, researchers and students from different universities collaborate with practitioners from SMEs in a series of case studies in which the current state of affairs regarding emerging digital technologies – such as Industry 4.0, Internet-of-Things, AI, machine learning, big data analytics and robotics – is being explored.

Potential research may include:

  1. Initial research question: “What factors affect the use of emerging digital technologies (such as IoT, AI, machine learning, big data analytics and robotics) in SMEs?”

  2. The study includes fixed conceptualization and research design, but students are free to explore other subtopics.

Methods: The overarching study is performed as a multiple mixed case study, where each participating student performs a single mixed case study. We use a so-called Snowballing approach to accelerate the study and expand it where necessary. In the study several students from different national and international universities collaborate: each student is linked to an organization from an already existing research consortium (this can be an SME, but also, for example, a municipality or a branch organization) and does his or her graduation assignment with that organization as a base camp. Intensive use is made of the network of the internship organization to investigate the state of affairs regarding the use of emerging digital technologies. Each student individually writes a graduation thesis based on the results of their own research. However, a number of research activities are worked out jointly with the entire research team in preparation for the research project. This includes preparing the conceptual model of the study and the research method, including, for example, the approach and questions in a series of semi- structured interviews. The study will include collection of data in a number of SMEs, performing semi- structured interviews and perform quantitative and qualitative analysis of results.

We do not set any initial requirements for the skills or specialization of the participating students, but we do demand a genuine interest in the user aspects of emerging digital technologies, specifically in SMEs.

Available spots: No limit.


Ramdani, B., Raja, S., & Kayumova, M. (2022). Digital innovation in SMEs: a systematic review, synthesis and research agenda. Information Technology for Development, 28(1), 56-80.

Grashof, N., & Kopka, A. (2022). Artificial intelligence and radical innovation: an opportunity for all companies?. Small Business Economics, 1-27.

Holzmann, P., & Gregori, P. (2023). The promise of digital technologies for sustainable entrepreneurship: A systematic literature review and research agenda. International Journal of Information Management, 68, 102593.


Dr. Ayushi Rastogi

Dr. Ayushi Rastogi

assistant professor

SEARCH Group • University of Groningen • 2023
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