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Inter-organizational learning within an institutional knowledge network: A case study in the textile and clothing industry

Vasco Eiriz (Department of Management, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal)
Miguel Gonçalves (Department of Employment, Institute of Employment and Training, Tomar, Portugal)
João S. Areias (School of Technology and Management, Instituto Politécnico do Porto, Felgueiras, Portugal)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 8 May 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the interaction process between organizations of a knowledge network as a means to promote learning. In particular, the authors aim to answer the following research questions: how do dyadic and network relationships contribute to inter-organizational creation and transfer of knowledge? More specifically, which joint activities between organizations facilitate inter-organizational learning within a knowledge network? That is, the authors are interested in the relationship processes for inter-organisational learning, aiming to identify and understand the joint activities through which organizations within an institutional network generate and transfer knowledge.

Design/methodology/approach

Aiming at studying how six institutional actors generate and transfer knowledge, the existing dyadic relationships between a focal actor (a technological center of the textile and clothing industry – CITEVE) and each one of the other five institutional actors were studied. In the study of this knowledge network the authors analyzed several documental sources and carried out 19 interviews.

Findings

This study shows how dyadic and network relationships contribute to inter-organisational creation and transfer of knowledge. It assesses several joint activities through which organizations in the studied network learn with each other and compares the five dyadic relationships in terms of their distinctive features. Through the cooperative effort based on joint activities between actors, the studied network generates complementary and multidisciplinary knowledge aiming to promote network learning of the studied organizations. Management implications and suggestions for further research on network learning are discussed.

Originality/value

This paper adds to the literature on network learning and management by empirically illustrating how a network of organizations in a given industry contributes to knowledge generation. It is an original contribution because, first, it allows a better understanding of how organizations of a knowledge network interact and contribute for network learning. In particular, the paper identifies a large number of joint activities for inter-organizational learning in the context of a traditional industry. Second, the research shows empirically how such interaction and learning occur in practice within a network context that comprises only institutional actors.

Keywords

Citation

Eiriz, V., Gonçalves, M. and Areias, J.S. (2017), "Inter-organizational learning within an institutional knowledge network: A case study in the textile and clothing industry", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 230-249. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJIM-11-2015-0117

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited