Networking for Innovation: How Entrepreneurs’ Network Behaviours Help Clusters To Innovate

Networking for InnovationPrincipal Investigator: Anne ter Wal

Funder: European Research Council, Horizon 2020

Duration: March 2017 – February 2022

This project develops a network behavioural approach to innovation in entrepreneurial clusters, investigating how entrepreneurs’ networking activities helps them shape their networks to obtain information advantages and leverage these to innovate and sustain the survival of their business. It will develop new insights into why certain clusters thrive as hubs of innovation and why some entrepreneurs within clusters contribute more to innovation than others.

Using qualitative and quantitative data collected through interviews, social science experiments and online network monitoring tools we will demonstrate how entrepreneurs take network decisions and how those decisions impact innovation outcomes. This project will test the hypothesis that most innovative entrepreneurs may not simply have better local and global networks, but have a superior ability to draw on the right connections at the right time and to make wise and insightful decisions on when to mobilise specific to gain access to crucial inputs, resources and support.

Key Research Elements Include:

  • Identifying entrepreneurs networking behaviour through qualitative study of entrepreneurs
  • Longitudinal monitoring of network behaviour using an online tool
  • Examining how casual network ties become long-lasting and robust by means of field experiments
  • Analysing how entrepreneurs influence each other’s behaviour in network clusters through combined experimental and secondary data methods