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Bilateral Collaboration and the Emergence of Innovation Networks


  • Robin Cowan

    () (UNU-MERIT, University of Maastricht, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands)

  • Nicolas Jonard

    () (CNRS, CREA, Ecole Polytechnique, 1 Rue Descartes, 75005 Paris, France)

  • Jean-Benoit Zimmermann

    () (CNRS, GREQAM, EHESS, 2 Rue de la Charité, 13002 Marseille, France)


In this paper, we model the formation of innovation networks as they emerge from bilateral decisions. In contrast to much of the literature, here firms only consider knowledge production, and not network issues, when deciding on partners. Thus, we focus attention on the effects of the knowledge and information regime on network formation. The effectiveness of a bilateral collaboration is determined by cognitive, relational, and structural embeddedness. Innovation results from the recombination of knowledge held by the partners to the collaboration, and its success is determined in part by the extent to which firms' knowledge complement each other. Previous collaborations (relational embeddedness) increase the probability of a successful collaboration, as does information gained from common third parties (structural embeddedness). Repeated alliance formation creates a network. Two features are central to the innovation process: how firms pool their knowledge resources, and how firms derive information about potential partners. When innovation is decomposable into separate subtasks, networks tend to be dense; when structural embeddedness is important, networks become cliquish. For some regions in this parameter space, small worlds emerge.

Suggested Citation

  • Robin Cowan & Nicolas Jonard & Jean-Benoit Zimmermann, 2007. "Bilateral Collaboration and the Emergence of Innovation Networks," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(7), pages 1051-1067, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:53:y:2007:i:7:p:1051-1067

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Pierre-Alexandre Balland & Ron Boschma & Koen Frenken, 2015. "Proximity and Innovation: From Statics to Dynamics," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(6), pages 907-920, June.
    2. Cilem Selin Hazir & Corinne Autant-Bernard, 2012. "Using Affiliation Networks to Study the Determinants of Multilateral Research Cooperation Some empirical evidence from EU Framework Programs in biotechnology," Working Papers 1212, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    3. Martin Kalthaus, 2016. "Knowledge recombination along the technology life cycle," Jena Economic Research Papers 2016-012, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    4. Savin, Ivan & Egbetokun, Abiodun, 2016. "Emergence of innovation networks from R&D cooperation with endogenous absorptive capacity," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 82-103.
    5. Widad Guechtouli, 2014. "Agent-based modeling of knowledge transfer within social networks," Working Papers 2014-148, Department of Research, Ipag Business School.
    6. Feng, Bo & Fan, Zhi-Ping & Li, Yanzhi, 2011. "A decision method for supplier selection in multi-service outsourcing," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(2), pages 240-250, August.
    7. Mario V. Tomasello & Claudio J. Tessone & Frank Schweitzer, 2016. "A Model Of Dynamic Rewiring And Knowledge Exchange In R&D Networks," Advances in Complex Systems (ACS), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 19(01n02), pages 1-23, February.
    8. Petra Ahrweiler & Mark Keane, 2013. "Innovation networks," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 12(1), pages 73-90, June.
    9. Abiodun Egbetokun & Ivan Savin, 2014. "Absorptive capacity and innovation: when is it better to cooperate?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 399-420, April.
    10. Pierre-Alexandre Balland & José Antonio Belso-Martínez & Andrea Morrison, 2014. "The Dynamics of Technical and Business Networks in Industrial Clusters: Embeddedness, status or proximity?," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1412, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Apr 2014.
    11. Song, Bomi & Seol, Hyeonju & Park, Yongtae, 2016. "A patent portfolio-based approach for assessing potential R&D partners: An application of the Shapley value," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 156-165.
    12. Dorota Leszczyńska, 2014. "La trajectoire organisationnelle et l’enracinement du savoir. L’étude de cas d’un cluster," Working Papers 2014-270, Department of Research, Ipag Business School.
    13. Cristiano Antonelli, 2011. "The Economic Complexity of Technological Change: Knowledge Interaction and Path Dependence," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economic Complexity of Technological Change, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    14. Pierre-Alexandre Balland & Mathijs De Vaan & Ron Boschma, 2013. "The dynamics of interfirm networks along the industry life cycle: The case of the global video game industry, 1987--2007," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(5), pages 741-765, September.
    15. Luca Iandoli & Cristina Ponsiglione & Elio Marchione & Giuseppe Zollo, 2012. "Knowledge exchange processes in Industrial Districts and the emergence of networks," Central European Journal of Operations Research, Springer;Slovak Society for Operations Research;Hungarian Operational Research Society;Czech Society for Operations Research;Österr. Gesellschaft für Operations Research (ÖGOR);Slovenian Society Informatika - Section for Operational Research;Croatian Operational Research Society, vol. 20(2), pages 231-250, June.
    16. Ron Boschma & Pierre-Alexandre Balland & Mathijs de Vaan, 2014. "The formation of economic networks: a proximity approach," Chapters,in: Regional Development and Proximity Relations, chapter 7, pages 243-266 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    17. Feng, Bo & Fan, Zhi-Ping & Ma, Jian, 2010. "A method for partner selection of codevelopment alliances using individual and collaborative utilities," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 159-170, March.
    18. Feng, Bo & Jiang, Zhong-Zhong & Fan, Zhi-Ping & Fu, Na, 2010. "A method for member selection of cross-functional teams using the individual and collaborative performances," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 203(3), pages 652-661, June.
    19. Yoon, Hyungseok & Yun, Sunyoung & Lee, Joosung & Phillips, Fred, 2015. "Entrepreneurship in East Asian Regional Innovation Systems: Role of social capital," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 83-95.
    20. Kirkels, Yvonne & Duysters, Geert, 2010. "Brokerage in SME networks," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 375-385, April.
    21. Julian Dormann & Thomas Ehrmann & Michael Kopel, 2008. "Managing the Evolution of Cooperation," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2008-01, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.


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