Photo of Roel Rutten
  • Prof. Cobbenhagenlaan 225, Simon Building, room S 606

    5037 DB Tilburg


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Personal profile

Research interests

My research focuses on knowledge creation and applies this to the three areas discussed below. My disciplinary background is organization sociology and economic geography. Given my interest in researching knowledge creation as a process, my empirical approach is mainly, though not exclusively, qualitative in nature.

 Knowledge creation and networks

I conduct research into how characteristics of networks ? such as organizational structure, governance mechanisms, network composition, trust, communication, etc. ? affect the knowledge creation process in networks. In my research, networks form the organizational context within which individuals create knowledge. I look at knowledge creation as a process of social interaction. My research contributes to the literature on the knowledge-based view of firms and networks from an organizational-sociological perspective.

 Proximities and knowledge creation

Elaborating on the previous, I argue that knowledge is embedded in social contexts. Actors that share a social context find it easier to create knowledge, while knowledge creation across social contexts is more difficult. Different forms of proximities may constitute a social context, either individually or in combination, in the following ways:

-       Spatial proximity: When actors share the customs and traditions of a location/place.

-       Social proximity: When actors share the norms and values of a (social or professional) network.

-       Technological/cognitive proximity: Such as found in for example communities of practice.

Understanding the role of proximities with regard to knowledge creation is important to explain the competitiveness of networks and places.

 Knowledge creation and regional economic development

I research why some places/regions have a better economic performance than others and argue that this is because some places/regions are more conducive to knowledge creation than others. This research connects to the economic-geographic literature on Territorial Innovation Models, in particular the Learning Region, and it connects this literature to new insights with regard to regional economic development, such as creativity and social capital.


Assistant Professor in the Department of Organization Studies at Tilburg University (2001-present).

Core Fellow in the Center for Innovation Research (CIR) at Tilburg University (2008-present).

Visiting Fellow at Newcastle University Business School (2010-2012).

Consultant for European Regional Affairs Consultants (ERAC) in the field of regional innovation policy (1994-2001).

PhD supervision

Joris Knoben, dissertation on: Firm mobility and organizational networks. (Graduation 14.09.2007.)

Rik Ligthart (2009-present): governance of networks.

Roland Levering (2009-present): organizational culture and networks.


Experience with education in both large and small groups. Responsible for designing new courses and renewing existing courses. Used to teaching courses in teams with other lecturers.

 Courses taught:

Innovation and Organization*; Inter-Organizational Relations; Economic Sociology; Master Seminar Organization Studies; Organization Theory; Project Assignment B*; Advice, Intervention and Evaluation*; Introduction to Organization Studies; Research in Organizations; Corporate Social Responsibilities; Academic Skills*

*) course coordinator.

External positions

(Raad van organisatie-adviesbureau (ROA))

1 Oct 2013 → …

(Provincie Brabant)

1 Sep 2013 → …

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innovation Social Sciences
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Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 1998 2020

Innovation and SMEs in Interreg policy: Too early to move beyond bikelines?

van den Broek, J., Rutten, R. & Benneworth, P., 2020, In : Policy Studies. 41, 1, p. 1-22

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

border region
innovation policy
European Commission

Border blocking effects in collaborative firm innovation

van den Broek, J., Benneworth, P. & Rutten, R., 2018, In : European Planning Studies. 26, 7, p. 1330-1346

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

border region

Het verhaal van een ramp: Tenerife 27 maart 1997

Rutten, R., 2018, Wolf Publishers.

Research output: Book/ReportBookPopular

Beyond proximities: The socio-spatial dynamics of knowledge creation

Rutten, R. P. J. H., 2017, In : Progress in Human Geography. 41, 2, p. 159-177

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

social space
social attraction

Knowledge creation in temporary organizations

Rutten, R., 2017, Cooperative and networking strategies in small business. Peris-Ortiz, M. & Ferreira, J. (eds.). Springer, p. 175-195

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

Activities 2005 2007

  • 2 Editorial activity

European Planning Studies (Journal)

R.P.J.H. Rutten (Reviewer)

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activityScientific

European Planning Studies (Journal)

R.P.J.H. Rutten (Reviewer)

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activityScientific