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Orchestrating Innovative SME Networks. The Case of “HealthInnovation”


  • Anne Gausdal


  • Etty Nilsen


This paper develops a framework for the orchestrating process of networks of independent small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). The existing literature on network orchestration is developed for large networks with a dominant hub firm managing up to 500 members. We argue that SME networks need a somewhat different approach to orchestration. We find the literature on communities of practice appropriate to that aim. The empirical base is a longitudinal study of the development of HealthInnovation, a regional network of independent SMEs. Originally, the network emerged as “a good idea” in the regional university, but it soon proved to be poorly rooted in the regional industry and in the public sector. Nonetheless, as a result of intensive orchestration, it has become a dynamic and innovative network with several important results: two new firms, several new research and innovation projects, and the development of a new subject at the university. In this study, we ask: What are the processes of successfully orchestrating innovative SME networks? We maintain that in order to successfully orchestrate such networks, the orchestration process consists of managing knowledge mobility, managing innovation appropriability, managing network stability, and managing network health. Managing network health is our specific contribution. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Suggested Citation

  • Anne Gausdal & Etty Nilsen, 2011. "Orchestrating Innovative SME Networks. The Case of “HealthInnovation”," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 2(4), pages 586-600, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jknowl:v:2:y:2011:i:4:p:586-600
    DOI: 10.1007/s13132-011-0070-7

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Keeble & Frank Wilkinson, 1999. "Collective Learning and Knowledge Development in the Evolution of Regional Clusters of High Technology SMEs in Europe," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(4), pages 295-303.
    2. Joanne Roberts, 2006. "Limits to Communities of Practice," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(3), pages 623-639, May.
    3. Maarten H. Batterink & Emiel F.M. Wubben & Laurens Klerkx & S.W.F. (Onno) Omta, 2010. "Orchestrating innovation networks: The case of innovation brokers in the agri-food sector," Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(1), pages 47-76, January.
    4. Hoang, Ha & Antoncic, Bostjan, 2003. "Network-based research in entrepreneurship: A critical review," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 165-187, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Siw M. Fosstenløkken, 2016. "Systemic instruments for regional intervention in practice: the facilitation of an inventor-investor matchmaking process," International Journal of Innovation and Regional Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 7(1), pages 57-75.
    2. Helge Svare, 2016. "User-Producer Dialogue, Workplace Innovation, and Knowledge in a Regional Innovation System," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 7(2), pages 565-586, June.
    3. repec:wsi:ijimxx:v:21:y:2017:i:06:n:s1363919617500463 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. P. Petrakis & P. Kostis, 2015. "The Role of Knowledge and Trust in SMEs," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 6(1), pages 105-124, March.
    5. Agostini, Lara & Filippini, Roberto & Nosella, Anna, 2015. "Management and performance of strategic multipartner SME networks," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 376-390.


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