Adapting Reverse Mentoring Strategy to SMEs: A New Pilot Model Implemented in Brazil

Dafna Schwartz, Raphael Bar-El, David J. Bentolila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In recent years, the Reverse Mentoring (RM) model has gained popularity in large companies. Although the prevailing RM model—junior employees mentoring senior employees—benefits both groups and promotes innovation, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) do not implement it due to lack of economies of scale, organizational capacities, and skilled junior employees. We devise a new RM model for SMEs that overcomes these disadvantages. First, the intervention of an intermediate, trusted professional entity initiates and supports the program for several companies; second, the mentors are not junior employees, but external graduate students with education in innovation. A pilot experiment was tested in the state of Ceara, Brazil. The preliminary findings support the new model’s feasibility and efficacy for SMEs. The intervention stimulated significant innovative ideas and resulted in out-of-the-box thinking, identification of potentials for innovation opportunities, and adaptation of an open innovation approach, which is important for SMEs with limited financial and non-financial resources. This study contributes to the literature on SMEs and RM by offering a new model that can overcome existing market failures experienced by SMEs. Empirical testing demonstrates its feasibility.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9515
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • Brazil
  • SME
  • innovation
  • knowledge management
  • open innovation
  • reverse mentoring
  • technological change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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