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Personal relationships and innovation diffusion in SME networks: A content analysis approach


  • Ceci, Federica
  • Iubatti, Daniela


Networks have been hailed as a third organizational form, between markets and hierarchies. One of the main characteristics of networks is the coexistence of different kinds of relationships, personal and professional among these. The presence of multiple types of relationships modifies inter-firm dynamics, creating a space where traditional innovation activities take place in an unusual way. The present paper investigates the role played by personal relationships within networks, addressing the following research questions: how do different types of relationships existing in a network of SMEs favour the development of economic activities? And do personal relationships play a role in supporting innovative activities? To answer our research questions, we analyzed qualitative data using content analysis methodology. Content analysis allows researchers to obtain an objective, systematic, and quantitative description of the manifest content of a communication. Based on this analysis, we conclude that the coexistence of personal and professional relationships shapes a unique context that alters the usual dynamics of innovation diffusion.

Suggested Citation

  • Ceci, Federica & Iubatti, Daniela, 2012. "Personal relationships and innovation diffusion in SME networks: A content analysis approach," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 565-579.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:41:y:2012:i:3:p:565-579 DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2011.10.003

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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Liang-Chih, 2015. "Building extra-regional networks for regional innovation systems: Taiwan's machine tool industry in China," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 107-117.
    2. O’Keeffe, Juliette M. & Gilmour, Daniel & Simpson, Edward, 2016. "A network approach to overcoming barriers to market engagement for SMEs in energy efficiency initiatives such as the Green Deal," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 582-590.
    3. Igone Porto & Jose Ramón Otegi, 2014. "Intra and extra regional openness: The role of ?trust? builders as Open Innovation Intermediaries," ERSA conference papers ersa14p462, European Regional Science Association.
    4. Mauro Capestro & Elisabetta Tarantino & Fabrizio Morgangni & Eleonora Tricarico & Gianluigi Guido, 2014. "Distretti calzaturieri in crisi: cause del declino e strategie di rinnovamento," ECONOMIA E SOCIETÀ REGIONALE, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2014(1), pages 187-212.
    5. Jacob, Frank & Kleipaß, Ulrich & Pohl, Alexander, 2014. "Nature and role of customer satisfaction in the solution business," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 487-498.
    6. repec:spr:scient:v:111:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11192-017-2320-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Joana Almodovar & Aurora A.C. Teixeira, 2014. "Assessing the Importance of Local Supporting Organizations in the Automotive Industry: A Hybrid Dynamic Framework of Innovation Networks," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(4), pages 841-865, April.
    8. Huasheng Zhu & Junwei Feng & Maojun Wang & Fan Xu, 2017. "Sustaining Regional Advantages in Manufacturing: Skill Accumulation of Rural–Urban Migrant Workers in the Coastal Area of China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(1), pages 1-23, January.
    9. Janaina Pamplona da Costa, 2015. "Network (Mis)Alignment, Technology Policy and Innovation: The Tale of Two Brazilian Cities," SPRU Working Paper Series 2015-14, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    10. repec:eee:tefoso:v:123:y:2017:i:c:p:250-261 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. van den Oever, Koen, 2017. "Uncharted waters : A behavioral approach to when, why and which organizational changes are adopted," Other publications TiSEM 0136c8c2-ecdd-4f82-8ca7-d, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.


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