Studies of innovation networking have frequently been concerned with the occurrence of dyadic relationships and with their apparent impact on simple measures of firm-level innovation outputs. This paper takes a more detailed look by analyzing the connection between different types of innovation and forms of networking. Based on the market novelty of innovation outcomes and the extent to which innovation activities require new competences, four types of innovation are identified. It is proposed that these types correlate with various innovation network dimensions, including the volume of networks, the strength and content of ties, and the specificity of ties. Drawing on survey data of 594 innovations realized by Dutch small firms, it is observed that the requirement to access new competences for innovation correlates positively with the number of network partners involved. We also note more subtle connections between types of innovation and networking, including that novel innovation outputs correlate with using network partners as a source of inspiration, whilst new competences associate with networking for knowledge capital. In the latter case, these activities also draw on new and intended ties relatively often, i.e. network partners which are actively sought out for the specific contributions they may make to the innovation process. Finally, innovation which is simultaneously new-to-the market and requires new competences uses strong ties relatively often. Implications for innovation policy and practice are discussed.

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ERIM Article Series (EAS)
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Freel, M., & de Jong, J. (2009). Market novelty, competence-seeking and innovation networking. Technovation, 29(12), 873–884. doi:10.1016/j.technovation.2009.07.005