Understanding inter-firm networks and types of innovation in SMEs: a social network perspective

Meysam Poorkavoos*, Yanqing Duan, John Edwards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputConference publication


Innovation is one of the key drivers for gaining competitive advantages in any firms. Understanding knowledge transfer through inter-firm networks and its effects on types of innovation in SMEs is very important in improving SMEs innovation. This study examines relationships between characteristics of inter-firm knowledge transfer networks and types of innovation in SMEs. To achieve this, social network perspective is adopted to understand inter-firm knowledge transfer networks and its impact on innovation by investigating how and to what extend ego network characteristics are affecting types of innovation. Therefore, managers can develop the firms'network according to their strategies and requirements. First, a conceptual model and research hypotheses are proposed to establish the possible relationship between network properties and types of innovation. Three aspects of ego network are identified and adopted for hypotheses development: 1) structural properties which address the potential for resources and the context for the flow of resources, 2) relational properties which reflect the quality of resource flows, and 3) nodal properties which are about quality and variety of resources and capabilities of the ego partners. A questionnaire has been designed based on the hypotheses. Second, semistructured interviews with managers of five SMEs have been carried out, and a thematic qualitative analysis of these interviews has been performed. The interviews helped to revise the questionnaire and provided preliminary evidence to support the hypotheses. Insights from the preliminary investigation also helped to develop research plan for the next stage of this research.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the European Conference on Knowledge Management
PublisherAcademic Publishing
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-908272-10-2
ISBN (Print)978-1-908272-09-6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011
Event12th European Conference on Knowledge Management - Passau, Germany
Duration: 1 Sept 20112 Sept 2011


Conference12th European Conference on Knowledge Management
Abbreviated titleECKM 2011


  • Incremental innovation
  • Inter-firm knowledge transfer
  • Inter-firm networks
  • Radical innovation
  • Social networks


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