The Structure of Policy-Induced Innovation Networks in Slovenia

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European Journal of Innovation Management

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Purpose – The recent economic crisis has significantly slowed Slovenia’s recent social and economic progress and exposed some important long-term problems such as a reliance on low value added Practical implications – Partnership is a learned behavior and the development of trust among partners takes time. The Slovenian government should provide policy stability and allow niches of technical excellence to emerge through consortium proposals. They should monitor the project partnerships and adjust funding so that it is reaching applicants that are actually partnering on projects rather than working alone or within their own institutional types. Other nations should also monitor the impact of partnership programs to ensure that as they evolve the funding is continuing to support and demonstrate the benefits partnership behavior. Research limitations/implications – The definition of a network member is the company, faculty, or department. In reality, individuals within these organizations are acting on their own connections and experiences, and these may or may not encourage other individuals in the same organization to engage in partnerships. Thus, the authors may be overstating the extent to which one connection among organizations generates experience that will lead to future connection. Another important limitation of the data is that for the second stage of the analysis the authors received project information from only ten of the 32 formal center programs examined in the first and lagging labor productivity. The Slovenian government has taken steps to create research partnerships between public science and the private sector and among multiple private sector companies. The purpose of this paper is to conduct a social network analysis (SNA) of the research partnerships and examine whether public funding has created the desired partnerships. Design/methodology/approach – The authors employed a SNA in two stages. In the first stage, the authors treated the founding partners of government-funded 32 research centers as a single two-mode network and investigated how each of the members was bound to the network. In the second stage of the analysis the authors used project data from ten of the centers to characterize a project network based on collaborations on specific projects. Thus, the second stage overlaps the center network with the project network. The authors used information from interviews with network members to assist in interpreting the results. Findings – Networking policies are stimulating collaborations among different types of centers and partners, but to differing degrees. While the formal collaborative network showed strong participation from the private sector, public research organizations, and higher education institutions, some of the centers are not well connected to the rest of the network. Partnership in the development of a proposal in response to a tender does not always translate into project collaboration, and the networks have evolved as project workplans and staffing plans are developed. The innovation network is evolving into an international network within and across scientific areas. Networks are path dependent and require policy stability; experienced bridging institutions can fill gaps where partners lack experience. Social implications – Due to the path dependent nature of innovation partnerships, the authors expect participation in innovation networks to generate a change in the culture of research and development (R & D) partnerships in Slovenia. However, this transition will occur faster as organizations partner face-to-face on actual projects. Centrality in a network fosters common understanding and shared principles of collaboration. Originality/value – Like many nations struggling to emerge from the recession, Slovenia has to examine its long-term strategy for upgrading its industries and improving productivity. This paper demonstrates how policies to enhance the innovation agenda might be more effective by examining how the networking resources are actually being used, whether participants are participating in networks that cross institutional types, whether policies are encouraging the exchange of information across stages of the innovation process, and therefore whether the policy will move the culture toward greater collaboration and R & D effectiveness. The results can assist Slovenia’s policymakers in redesigning innovation network policy.



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