Structured Abstract Purpose – This study investigates the importance of networking for enhancing companies innovation capabilities and facilitate internationalization, especially for resource restricted companies (like SMEs). Collaboration is regarded as an important factor for the success of SMEs, especially as technology becomes complex, and where knowledge is distributed across various firms (Lee et al., 2010; Bianchi et al., 2010). The Contratto di Rete -CR- (literally translated as “Network Contract”) is a key solution, enhancing growth and increasing innovation capacity and internationalization of SMEs. This is made possible through knowledge sharing leading to higher outcomes (Hau-Siu Chow; 2012). In fact, sharing contributes to knowledge, skill, and ability that is vital to enhance performance. After grounding the Contratto di Rete in the general theory of networking, we propose a model based on Ring and Van de Ven theory (1994) in order to describe how a Contratto di Rete is established and performs. Design/methodology/approach – We propose a deductive approach trough a multiple-case study design. After having selected multiple Italian CRs (through a specified protocol) we make an in depth investigation with recorded semi-structured interviews (Yin, 1989), triangulating data with other relevant sources: internal documents, acts, presentations and the CRs. More in detail, we will answer to the following research question: Is the Contratto di Rete providing competitive support for the Italian SMEs? Outcomes will be compared to theory understanding case-specific patterns, similarities and differences among the case selected. Originality/value – This methodology puts in evidence if and how – thanks to linkages and knowledge sharing – CR is proving to be effective for Italian SMEs. Additionally, we address to Hofstede’s national culture dimensions to explain further in which ways the Contratto di Rete fits Italian entrepreneurship culture. Since 2009, year when the instrument was introduced, not enough time went by in order to make relevant quantitative studies (Bank of Italy, February 2013). For this reason, we will adopt a qualitative approach, based on interviews and, more specifically, with a multiple case study design. 2882 Practical implications – The outcomes of the study will shed light on this emerging networking phenomenon that is becoming widely applied in Italian SMEs. In particular, entrepreneurs and network managers will find which elements and practices drives the performance of the network. Our original approach links networks structure (nature of network ties, typology of involved firms), networks knowledge (in terms of competences and capabilities) and network performances in terms of innovation and internationalization.

Knowledge, competitiveness and networking in SMEs: an exploratory study of the Italian “Contratto di Rete” – Network Contract

MASSARI, FRANCESCO SAVERIO
2014

Abstract

Structured Abstract Purpose – This study investigates the importance of networking for enhancing companies innovation capabilities and facilitate internationalization, especially for resource restricted companies (like SMEs). Collaboration is regarded as an important factor for the success of SMEs, especially as technology becomes complex, and where knowledge is distributed across various firms (Lee et al., 2010; Bianchi et al., 2010). The Contratto di Rete -CR- (literally translated as “Network Contract”) is a key solution, enhancing growth and increasing innovation capacity and internationalization of SMEs. This is made possible through knowledge sharing leading to higher outcomes (Hau-Siu Chow; 2012). In fact, sharing contributes to knowledge, skill, and ability that is vital to enhance performance. After grounding the Contratto di Rete in the general theory of networking, we propose a model based on Ring and Van de Ven theory (1994) in order to describe how a Contratto di Rete is established and performs. Design/methodology/approach – We propose a deductive approach trough a multiple-case study design. After having selected multiple Italian CRs (through a specified protocol) we make an in depth investigation with recorded semi-structured interviews (Yin, 1989), triangulating data with other relevant sources: internal documents, acts, presentations and the CRs. More in detail, we will answer to the following research question: Is the Contratto di Rete providing competitive support for the Italian SMEs? Outcomes will be compared to theory understanding case-specific patterns, similarities and differences among the case selected. Originality/value – This methodology puts in evidence if and how – thanks to linkages and knowledge sharing – CR is proving to be effective for Italian SMEs. Additionally, we address to Hofstede’s national culture dimensions to explain further in which ways the Contratto di Rete fits Italian entrepreneurship culture. Since 2009, year when the instrument was introduced, not enough time went by in order to make relevant quantitative studies (Bank of Italy, February 2013). For this reason, we will adopt a qualitative approach, based on interviews and, more specifically, with a multiple case study design. 2882 Practical implications – The outcomes of the study will shed light on this emerging networking phenomenon that is becoming widely applied in Italian SMEs. In particular, entrepreneurs and network managers will find which elements and practices drives the performance of the network. Our original approach links networks structure (nature of network ties, typology of involved firms), networks knowledge (in terms of competences and capabilities) and network performances in terms of innovation and internationalization.
9788896687031
SMEs network; Knowledge; Formal contract; Innovation; Internationalization
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12572/1682
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