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State and development of innovation networks: Evidence from the European vehicle sector

Christoph Dilk (Strascheg Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, European Business School, International University, Oestrich‐Winkel, Germany)
Ronald Gleich (Strascheg Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, European Business School, International University, Oestrich‐Winkel, Germany)
Andreas Wald (Strascheg Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, European Business School, International University, Oestrich‐Winkel, Germany)
Jaideep Motwani (Department of Management, Seidman College of Business, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 23 May 2008

Abstract

Purpose

Innovation is one of the key drivers of economic success. However, the global environment is changing and makes innovation management more competitive. In order to sustain an advantage, companies seem to adopt more flexible schemes of organization. Specifically, innovation networks appear useful to researchers and practitioners. This paper aims to explore the current empirical relevance of this phenomenon in the automotive sector, the goals and performance of innovation networks as well as their formation and governance.

Design/methodology/approach

Through a series of semi‐structured interviews with managers from European automobile firms, insights into network approaches and strategies based on the analysis of 39 innovation networks are presented. The study comprises all relevant actors in the industry such as large OEMs as well as small and medium‐sized second‐tier and third‐tier suppliers.

Findings

The empirical survey was able to confirm that innovation networks are of high relevance in the automobile sector. It can be expected that innovation networks will spread further and gain more importance in the coming years. The most important goals that the involved companies aim to realize by using innovation networks include flexible access to technologies, intensified contact with clients and markets and long‐term bonding of suppliers and clients. The companies report a fairly good performance of their innovation networks. Finally, various aspects of network formation and governance have been identified.

Practical implications

Several deficits in current network management practices are identified. Improving these issues, the performance level of innovation networks could be raised even higher.

Originality/value

Building on previous work in this field, this paper adds empirical insights on innovation networks in the automobile business.

Keywords

Citation

Dilk, C., Gleich, R., Wald, A. and Motwani, J. (2008), "State and development of innovation networks: Evidence from the European vehicle sector", Management Decision, Vol. 46 No. 5, pp. 691-701. https://doi.org/10.1108/00251740810873455

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited