Methods for developing innovative SME networks
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of the Knowledge Economy. 2015, 6 (4), 978-1000. 10.1007/s13132-013-0169-0
The purpose of this paper is to study whether and how to facilitate the creation of new networks and discuss methods for developing innovative small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) networks, or more specifically methods that initiate knowledge mobility and support the development of trustful relationships. Network individual, group, and plenary reflection (IGP), a hybrid dialog method, is developed and utilised to this aim. To answer the research question ‘In what way is Network IGP a method for developing innovative SME networks?’, a case study with longitudinal—mostly qualitative—data and direct participation is conducted in a network of water cleansing SMEs from 2007 to 2013. The answer to the research question is that Network IGP is a method that can be facilitated from the outside to build trustful relationships and initiate mobility of tacit knowledge, especially during the emergence stage, of innovative SME networks. The paper also demonstrates that it is possible to support the emergence and development of SME networks from the outside, building on the participants’ knowledge and history. The paper has theoretical, methodological, and practical implications.