Especially at the regional level co‐operation is seen as a prerequisite for innovation and competitiveness. Hence, political interest in fostering knowledge intensive networks is high. New forms of governance and additional strategic intelligence for decision makers are requested. Thus potential of the social network analysis (SNA) is discussed as methodology providing the information needed for strategic management of innovation networks. The aim of this paper is to assess the impact as a regional governance tool.
First, benefits and risks of innovation networks are discussed based on literature review. Second, the potentials of the SNA for their systematic monitoring are examined. Herewith specific attention was paid to the manageability and reduction of complexity to demonstrate SNA applicability for network governance. Analysis was based on automated data retrieval of electronic documents available, e.g. at governmental institutions, research databases, and the internet. Results are exemplified by studying knowledge intensive networks in Styria.
The applied set of IT based tools and visualisation of regional co‐operations based on SNA provides a comprehensive view of the interdependencies and the embeddedness of different institutions as well as actors of the region. Based on this visualisation conclusions are drawn concerning network management by analysing specific attributes of interest, concerning partners, cooperative behaviour, balance of power, openness and embeddedness of the network.
Network benefits success may not be achieved automatically. Strategic management is crucial for success. The paper demonstrates how social network analysis may be applied on automatic retrieved data on involved organisations and key players to strengthening the strategic intelligence of (regional) decision makers and help them meet the governance challenges of the network economy.
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