آیا سرمایه هیئت مدیره شبکه اهمیت دارد ؟ بررسی عملکرد نوآورانه در شبکه های راهبردی شرکتهای کوچک و متوسط
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|18583||2010||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Business Research, Volume 63, Issue 3, March 2010, Pages 265–275
This article examines the effects of network board capital (i.e., human capital and relational capital) on total, radical and incremental network innovative performance. Results from a five-year longitudinal study of network boards in 53 strategic networks suggest that a network board's diversity, education level, and interlocking directorates with other such networks affect network innovative performance. The degree of board diversity and interlocking directorates primarily influence incremental innovation, whereas education level influences radical innovation. The study finds that a network board's diversity of expertise and education level are important for improving all components of innovative performance (total, radical and incremental) in smaller networks. Managerial implications of these findings are discussed.
Today's business environment is challenging and competitive, and organizations require significant resources to face the challenges that such an environment poses. Therefore, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may find themselves disadvantaged in comparison with larger, well-established corporations because of their much more limited resources and the fact that they depend on outside entities significantly more. Such a disadvantage may cause problems in the development and launch of innovations (Narula, 2004 and Nooteboom, 1994). A popular recent response to such disadvantage is the participation in strategic SME networks (Chaston, 1995 and Human and Provan, 2000), which are intentionally formed groups of partly independent, profit-oriented SMEs that cooperate to improve innovative performance both through multilateral, intranetwork technology and through know-how exchange and the development of new products or services (Human and Provan, 1997 and Wincent, 2008). Although in general SMEs may be disadvantaged in terms of their ability to innovate on par with larger incumbents, participation in SME networks is believed to significantly improve SMEs' innovative positions. In fact, even for incumbent firms, links with other organizations and networks of collaborating organizations are known to affect the ability to develop and commercialize new products on the basis of novel forms of innovation (Tidd, 1995). For SMEs, then, such interorganizational links are of utmost importance: SME networks may facilitate participants' innovation, thus helping them stand out and outperform their competitors. Many European governmental and private institutions and policy programs now willingly support strategic SME networks (Hanna and Walsh, 2002 and Rosenfeld, 1996). Characterized by often-substantial governmental involvement, SME networks pool resources and undertake joint research and development (R&D) activities to provide individual SMEs with resources that they could not afford on their own. Not least, SME networks help individual firms handle and reduce risks, costs, and knowledge requirements associated with innovation, thereby enabling them to improve their innovative performance in terms of product or process development and improvement. In addition, such networks, which may include up to 50 or 100 member firms, provide a platform for collective lobbying and legitimacy in the launch of innovative initiatives. Through joint efforts and strength in numbers, participants can manage the many problematic situations that arise in the innovative process. Overall, cooperation in SME networks enables many SMEs to overcome innovative disadvantages. Therefore, governmental agencies support SME networks (Rosenfeld, 1996). However, the previous arguments provide a limited picture of the many challenges involved in facilitating innovation in SME networks. Human and Provan (2000) found that individual firms sometimes seek to satisfy their own interest at the expense of other member firms, which challenges future cooperation. Furthermore, issues of resource shortages and network legitimacy may lead to failure to innovate. As such, effective governance is highly necessary (Human and Provan, 1997, Human and Provan, 2000, Rosenfeld, 1996, Sherer, 2003 and Wincent, 2008). One such governance device that SME networks use is network boards, which include individuals who are entrusted with supervisory power to make important decisions related to the network. The role of the board officers is to support the functionality and innovative effectiveness of the network, as well as to address the shortcomings of its members. The major task of the board is to account for the individual interests of all independent members and to implement and support the most suitable innovative projects for the network, thus protecting the long-term interests of network participants. A review of the literature acknowledge a need to better understand the effects of boards on network innovative performance and to examine the effects of network board capital in strategic SME networks. Prior research has paid scant attention to the effects of network boards, and little knowledge is available on whether and how network board capital influences meso-level (i.e., network) innovation performance. In this article, the resource-dependence perspective and insights from the group decision literature is applied to elaborate on how the human and social (relational) capital of the board—which are particularly powerful in organizational contexts characterized by resource shortages (Pfeffer and Salancik, 1978)—influence the innovative performance of strategic SME networks. This study makes several contributions. First, the extent to which individual firms strengthen their innovative positions by participating in strategic SME networks is ambiguous (Rosenfeld, 1996). Here, the interest is to explain why certain strategic SME networks display more or less innovative performance and how properties of network boards may explain this difference. Without such knowledge, policy makers and practitioners risk wasting resources. Second, prior research on board capital often focuses on the functionality of boards in different hierarchical organizational contexts and does not address the effects on networks of independent units (see Dalton et al., 1998, Dalton et al., 1999 and Deutsch, 2005). However, acknowledging that boards exist at the meso-level, the study contributes to a discussion on the use of network boards in the innovative success (i.e., improved innovative performance) of structural arrangements such as networks. This study's key contribution is the articulation of how aspects of a network board's human capital (i.e., diversity of expertise and education level) and two aspects of social capital (i.e., ties to other organizations and interlocking directorates) influence network innovative performance. The study also explores the moderation of network board capital by network size and the frequency of board meetings. The underlying logic is that smaller networks and frequent board meetings more readily translate board capital into improvements in network innovative performance. This study employs a longitudinal design and analyses that enable the modeling of such relationships. The next part of the paper starts with a general discussion of board capital and subsequently turns to hypotheses development.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study provides conceptual arguments for and empirical evidence of the important role that different aspects of network board capital play in the innovative performance of strategic SME network members. In support of the idea that network board human capital is significant, this study hypothesized and found that the board members' diversity of backgrounds and education level directly facilitate network innovative performance. Notably, while the effect of diversity and education was significant for the overall improvements in network member firms' innovativeness, the results suggests that the locus of the respective effects differs: having diverse boards is particularly important for incremental innovation, while board officers' education level matters most for radical innovation. These results are consistent with prior research. Access and exposure to diverse knowledge domains enlightens organizations about new ways to solve existing problems (Rosenkopf and Nerkar, 2001) and as such reinforces organizations' ability to refine existing products, services, or technologies—that is, to innovate incrementally (Ettlie, 1983 and Subramaniam and Youndt, 2005) while education and ability to go beyond the mere applicability of the existing knowledge are required to morph old technologies into something radically new (Abernathy and Clark, 1985). This corresponds to our observations from the data. Partly supporting the relevance of a network board's social capital, a board's interlocking directorates, but not the ties to other organizations, may improve the innovative performance of network member firms; the effect is particularly pronounced for incremental innovation. Again, this is consistent with existing research (Subramaniam and Youndt, 2005). The study also found limited support for the hypothesized moderation effects and our contingency arguments: diversity in the board's expertise and education level is more important to improving innovative performance in smaller networks across all types of innovation. This may indicate that the transfer of board officers' human capital is easier in smaller networks. Alternatively, the finding may imply that small networks with limited resources are more dependent on board officers' human capital in general because they lack in other ways with respect to reducing their environmental dependencies. Close examination of the main effect of network size on all three types of innovation, as well as Fig. 1 and Fig. 2, help provide additional insights into the meaning of this finding: apparently, larger networks outperform smaller ones. At the same time, smaller networks benefit most from the board human capital; for larger networks such benefits are virtually nonexistent. This confirms the resource-dependence logic that informs the current study: network member firms use boards as a means to reduce environmental dependencies. The results provide a better understanding of network board capital and network innovative performance. The findings, probably the first empirical test of network board capital, emphasize the importance of putting effort and time into careful board design and officer selection in strategic SME networks. The human and relational capital that board officers share with the network is valuable, and organizations must consider that when assembling the board. As the hypothesized interaction effects suggest, the transfer of the network board's human capital may be particularly important for smaller networks. Therefore, the selection of board members may be a question of fit between board composition and the current network situation. Although most relationships were as expected, some of the findings contradicted the conceptual development and intuition. In particular, board meeting frequency negatively moderated effects of the board's diversity and interlocking directorates on network innovative performance. Perhaps when highly diverse boards or boards with many interlocking directorates meet often, they tend to change strategic plans and overly complicate things. Thus, frequent meetings with many interlocking directorates or a host of external interests to consider may create stress, conflicts, and uncertainty among highly educated boards (Jackson et al., 1995b), which is counterproductive and impedes the innovative performance of network members. An inconsistent strategy and wasted resources are the results. However, Jensen (1993) argues that board meetings are reactive rather than proactive measures, and Lipton and Lorsch (1992) suggest that the most widely shared problem among directors is a lack of time to carry out their duties. Therefore, boards with high diversity and interlocking directorates may be more effective and perform best with fewer board meetings at which the board solves acute innovative problems in the networks and implements or decides on new strategies for innovative challenges. In this light, the statistically significant positive main effect of meeting frequency on all types of innovation certainly warrants closer examination. Final clarification of this intriguing finding is certainly something to further research. Notwithstanding the conceptual and empirical contributions, the study does have limitations. Although a longitudinal sample is used, the analysis does not fully consider temporal effects beyond careful statistical control. Time horizon may also determine the effects of board capital on network innovative performance. For example, network board capital may become more beneficial over time as member firms gain awareness and understanding of board members' potential contributions. Other alternatives may also be to further explore the issues pertaining to board members' education. As of now, all that this study has is a rather crude measure that captures the number of board officers with higher education in a network. Perhaps a more nuanced approach that differentiates between the levels of higher education (i.e., bachelor's vs. master's) would have revealed a finer-grained picture and indicate the level at which the effects of education become particularly powerful. Thus, this should be acknowledged as a limitation of the current research. While the network members' proactive strategic orientation is controlled, because of the network-level aggregation of our data this study might have lost some opportunities to further refine our findings. Individual firms may join the network for multiple reasons, and the network effects may not accrue to all members equally. For instance, some member firms may be unwilling or unable to exploit the technology, knowledge, or new product/service development. The control of member firms' innovative stance accounted for is at the aggregate network level, and the issue of which particular firms appropriate the benefits that the network provides to an “average” member requires further attention. At this point this study has to leave this issue to future research. Another limitation pertains to sampling issues such as heterogeneity. Again, this study tried to correct for such issues statistically but may have inadvertently left some substantive issues unattended. The networks may be in different phases of development and member firms may pursue different goals. Although network age was controlled for, the consideration of other variables, such as network life cycle, could prove useful. Nevertheless, although the limitations suggest some caution in interpretation of the results, the findings presented provide new insights and a better understanding of network board capital and network innovative performance. Because firms, especially SMEs, are increasingly participating in networks, this study is a first attempt in an important area that requires future research efforts.