Network resources and knowledge alliances

Robert Huggins (Centre for International Competitiveness, Cardiff School of Management, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, UK)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Publication date: 7 September 2010



The purpose of this paper is to propose a theoretical framework to distinguish different forms of network resource that govern knowledge‐based alliances and facilitate innovation.


The paper seeks to build theory through a critical analysis of the relevant literature.


The paper draws on the notion of network resources to better understand those assets firms have at their disposal to facilitate knowledge‐based interactions and relationships that catalyze innovation. It seeks to integrate the concept of social capital, which the paper argues largely concerns resources related to the social relations and networks held by those individuals within a particular firm. As a means of describing and identifying network resources that are more strategically held by the firm as a whole, the paper introduces the concept of network capital. Network capital is defined as consisting of investments in calculative relations by firms through which they gain access to knowledge to enhance expected economic returns. Therefore, the paper argues that it is possible to make a distinction between the two types of network resource: network capital and social capital.

Research limitations/implications

Making a distinction between network capital and social capital is relevant to both scholars and decision‐makers as it provides a framework for analyzing the underlying complexity of inter‐firm networks and variability across a range of dimensions, conditions and contingencies. It also provides a framework for evaluating which networks a firm can or cannot manage and invest in to meet its requirements.


The paper develops a new and more refined framework for analyzing and evaluating knowledge‐based alliances and innovation‐driven networks between firms and other actors.



Huggins, R. (2010), "Network resources and knowledge alliances", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 30 No. 9/10, pp. 515-531.

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