روابط فردی و گسترش نوآوری در شبکه های شرکت های کوچک و متوسط: یک روش تجزیه و تحلیل محتوایی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|18721||2012||15 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Research Policy, Volume 41, Issue 3, April 2012, Pages 565–579
Networks have been hailed as a third organizational form, between markets and hierarchies. One of the main characteristics of networks is the coexistence of different kinds of relationships, personal and professional among these. The presence of multiple types of relationships modifies inter-firm dynamics, creating a space where traditional innovation activities take place in an unusual way. The present paper investigates the role played by personal relationships within networks, addressing the following research questions: how do different types of relationships existing in a network of SMEs favour the development of economic activities? And do personal relationships play a role in supporting innovative activities? To answer our research questions, we analyzed qualitative data using content analysis methodology. Content analysis allows researchers to obtain an objective, systematic, and quantitative description of the manifest content of a communication. Based on this analysis, we conclude that the coexistence of personal and professional relationships shapes a unique context that alters the usual dynamics of innovation diffusion.
A network has been defined as a hybrid coordination mechanism of economic activity that combines the advantages of both the traditional governance mechanisms of vertical integration and market exchanges (Brass et al., 2004, Faems et al., 2008, Grandori, 1997, Kogut, 2000 and Powell, 1990). Due to its unique positioning between markets and hierarchies, an “a priori” definition of its characteristics is not possible. However, the past few years have witnessed a flourish of empirical studies, aiming to understand how economic activities occur in a networked structure (Brass et al., 2004, Faems et al., 2008, Grandori, 1997, Kogut, 2000, Powell, 1990 and Tortoriello and Krackhardt, 2010). More specifically, innovation scholars have devoted their attention to the network dynamics that lead to the generation and diffusion of innovation within networks (Giuliani and Bell, 2007, Granovetter, 1985, Gulati, 1998, Iubatti et al., 2010, Kogut, 2000 and Lorenzoni and Lipparini, 1999). Network and innovation literature has shown that firms belonging to networks are more innovative than isolated firms (Ahuja, 2000, Baptista, 2000, Baptista and Swann, 1998, Brass et al., 2004, Podolny and Stuart, 1995 and Powell et al., 1996), identifying a series of factors that result in these positive associations: higher flexibility, greater ability to change, more fluid knowledge flows and the presence of a large variety of relationships among members (Cooke, 2001, Dahl and Pedersen, 2004, Giuliani and Bell, 2005, Inkpen and Tsang, 2005 and Padgett and Powell, 2011). In the present work, we build upon the latter stream of research: different types of relationships coexist within networks and modify inter-firm dynamics, creating a space where traditional innovation activities take place in an unusual way. Multiple relationships lead to the existence of multidimensional links. Seminal contributions have highlighted that the dynamics of economic activities are largely influenced by the multidimensional characteristics of networks (Brass et al., 2004 and Faems et al., 2008). Recently, Padgett and Powell (2011) focused their attention on how multidimensional links, in particular personal and professional links, contribute in different ways to the social and economic development of networks. Focusing on the personal aspects of relationships, we already know that economic decisions are largely influenced by the presence of trust between players (Granovetter, 1985, Gulati, 1995, Lawson et al., 2009 and Uzzi, 1997). However, we still know very little about the impact that multiple domains have on innovation dynamics. The present article investigates the role played by personal inter-firm relationships within networks, addressing the following research questions: how do different types of relationships existing in a network of SMEs favour the development of economic activities? Do personal relationships play a role in supporting innovative activities? We address these research questions through an empirical analysis of a consortium of SMEs located in Abruzzo (Italy) and composed of 15 SMEs operating in the automotive industry. The consortium is characterized by a large variety of relationships, horizontal as well as vertical, formal and informal, personal and professional. Within this consortium, personal and professional relationships are closely linked. This context represents a unique scenario within which we analyze the role that personal and professional relationships play in promoting the diffusion of innovation. We use content analysis methodology to examine the data in order to ensure the objective, systematic and quantitative description of the communication contents (Berelson, 1952 and Krippendorff, 2003). Content analysis is a research method, initially diffused in social studies, that allows measuring the content of communication on the basis of textual analysis (interviews, political speeches, laws, books and newspapers). To reach high levels of objectivity and external validity, the analysis is implemented by following a coding procedure (Duriau et al., 2007, Insch et al., 1997, Morris, 1994 and Zaheer and Soda, 2009). Although the use of content analysis in managerial studies is increasing, to our knowledge this is the first study that uses content analysis as a primary method. We use content analysis to analyze interviews and obtain quantitative information form qualitative data. In doing so, we strictly followed the guidelines provided by Krippendorff (2003). Our results describe how the diffusion of innovation takes place and what the dynamics between activities and personal/professional inter-firm relationships are. The contributions of the present work are threefold: (i) the diffusion of innovation is enabled by personal relationships: the presence of trust, shared values and mutual objectives facilitates the commencement of a difficult and risky path, such as that characterizing the adoption of innovation; (ii) strategic and innovative activities take place in different networks of relationships: the locus of innovation is not the locus of strategy; (iii) innovative activities are widely diffused within networks, exploiting a large variety of relationships and involving multiple network dimensions. On a final note, we believe that this paper also makes a significant contribution in the field of managerial research, adopting a novel methodological approach in the analysis of text interviews. The remainder of the article is organized as follows. In Section 2, we review contributions investigating the role of network features and personal/professional relationships in the diffusion of innovation, Section 2.1 explores the characteristics of networks and Section 2.2 highlights the distinctive features of personal relationships in networks. Section 3 develops the analytical model that guides the analysis of the empirical evidences, Section 4 describes the empirical context in which the research is grounded, and Section 5 explains the methodology used in this study. The last two sections discuss our results, draw conclusions and describe the implications of the present research for practitioners and scholars.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Innovation is diffused and adopted within networks following paths that are difficult to identify and thoroughly comprehend. Previous contributions largely explored this topic by providing a crucial understanding of the role of networks in diffusing innovation and studying their critical components, such as network compositions, position of networked members, the role of knowledge flows, trust and embeddedness (e.g. Deroian, 2002, Granovetter, 1985, Gulati, 1998, Kogut, 2000, Laursen et al., 2011, Padgett and Powell, 2011, Smith-Doerr and Powell, 2004 and Uzzi, 1997). Starting from these seminal contributions, we moved forward in the understanding of innovation dynamics that occur within networks, in particular, exploring the role played by personal relationships. The empirical context selected for the study is a consortium of SMEs (CISI consortium), located in central Italy. The context is particularly appropriate since it comprises a large variety of relationships, both horizontal and vertical, personal as well as professional. Moreover, the presence of a dominant leader, Honda Italia in our case, that influences the creation and the direction of this network is an important element that gives us a useful lens with which to analyze the phenomenon. We analyzed qualitative data collected with personal interviews using an original method, the content analysis procedure, which guarantees a high level of objectivity and external validity (Berelson, 1952, Kassarjian, 1977 and Krippendorff, 2003). The analysis of the results suggests that personal relationships play a pivotal role in facilitating contacts among networked members. Moreover, our data also describes how the diffusion of innovation takes place and what the dynamics occurring between activities and personal/professional relationships are. The results confirm the central role that the main client plays within the network (in line with existing literature, see: Everett and Borgatti, 2005 and Pavitt, 1984) and unveil partially unknown dynamics. Our contributions can be summarized as follows: (i) the diffusion of innovation is enabled by personal relationships; (ii) strategic and innovative activities take place in different networks; the locus of innovation is not the locus of strategy: actors, relationships and rationales involved are different, confirming the existence of multidimensional links, characterized by different functions; (iii) on the one hand, innovative activities are widely diffused within networks exploiting a large variety of relationships and involving multiple network dimensions; on the other hand, strategic activities depend on fewer dimensions and, also in this case, have dynamics that differ from those that characterize innovative activities. Our work yields important implications for scholars as well as management practitioners and policy makers, which are discussed in the next section.