Network Structures of Innovation Landscapes in Europe

Participants: Dr. Nikita Basov (Faculty of Sociology, St. Petersburg State University), Prof. Dr. Vera Minina (Faculty of Sociology, St. Petersburg State University), Dr. Alexandra Voronina (Admiral Makarov State University of Sea and River Craft), Ms. Larissa Potkonen

Building globally competitive innovation systems that integrate science, education and business sectors is a common policy task for many countries striving to complete transition to a knowledge-based economy. This task, among others, involves creating network structures of inter-organizational collaboration across the sectoral boundaries of science, education and business to stimulate innovations. It is posited that the emergence of such inter-organizational networks draws on effective inter-personal networks that connect members of research, academic and business organizations. These connections then form the basis for trust, information exchange and knowledge creation. Combined, these types of networks comprise innovation landscapes. This project is focused on analysis of such landscapes at theoretical, methodological and empirical levels.

The theoretical part of the project was focused on the analysis of the concept “innovation landscape”. Different approaches using this concept were considered. Semantic network analysis was used to grasp its meaning and propose a conventional definition of the term. Similarities and differences between the concepts “innovation landscape”, “innovation system”, “innovation cluster”, and “innovation network” were outlined. Further, the project team analysed the potential for a practical approach based on the idea of innovation landscape in science, education and business integration.

The empirical part of the project included multiple network analysis of inter-personal relations and organizational collaborations across the boundaries of science, education and business in two highly innovative clusters: a new materials cluster located in the region of Nuremberg, Germany and a maritime cluster located in Algarve, Portugal. The data collected during research stay in April 2013 using surveys, interviews and secondary data in Nuremberg was cross-case compared with previously (2012) collected data on Algarve.

Project team explored the ways to study how inter-personal network structures across the boundaries of science, education and business are related to the development of inter-organizational networks. Mixed techniques were used to qualitatively and quantitatively analyse multiple cross-sectoral networks. Firstly, to check if there is a relation between inter-personal and inter-organizational networks - the project team conducted QAP correlation and regression procedures applied to different dimensions of ties. Secondly, to find out which structural properties may characterize an inter-personal network that is effective in terms of science – education – business integration - the project team has: (1) evaluated the state of science, education and business integration in the region; (2) summarized the features of inter-personal networks argued as stimulating inter-organizational collaboration in the literature: the lower level of constraint; the balance of strong and weak ties; higher density of ties between the top managers of organizations; and dominance of actors representing different sectors in different types of centrality; (3) checked to what extent and in which form these features have been present in the inter-personal structures under analysis.

Throughout data collection on inter-personal and inter-organizational network structures of science, education and business in Nuremberg the existing collaboration of CGES with researchers at ISF Munich was used and further strengthened.

The project resulted in the following papers by CGES staff and CGES affiliated researchers:

  • Basov N., Minina V. Innovation Landscape: From a Metaphor to a Scientific Term // Innovations. 2014.
  • Basov N., Wühr D. Communication Structure and Innovation Success: A Comparative Analysis of German Companies (manuscript under review in an international journal). 

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