What Makes SMEs more Likely to Collaborate? Analysing the Role of Regional Innovation Policy
Annalisa Caloffi (),
Federica Rossi () and
Margherita Russo ()
European Planning Studies, 2015, vol. 23, issue 7, 1245-1264
The last 20 years have witnessed the diffusion of regional innovation policies supporting networks of innovators. The underlying aim of these policies is to encourage firms, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to undertake collaborations with organizations possessing complementary knowledge. Focusing on a set of SMEs that have participated, over time, in several innovation networks funded by the same regional government, the paper investigates how their relationships have evolved with respect to the following aspects: (i) reiteration of pre-existing relationships as opposed to experimentation with new relationships; (ii) collaboration with organizations possessing complementary rather than similar knowledge and competencies; (iii) creation of local relationships rather than experimentation with extra-local collaborations; (iv) reliance upon intermediaries to connect with other organizations. Our findings reveal that the involvement in these policy-supported networks changed the firms' relational patterns, leading them to collaborate with a wider variety of agents than those with whom they were linked before the policies. Sectoral heterogeneity had a negative effect on the probability of collaborating, while co-localization increased the likelihood of collaborating. Mutual involvement with intermediaries also had a positive effect. However, in the case of firm-to-university relationships only specialized intermediaries were likely to perform a positive role and, therefore, encourage networking.
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