Learning and Innovation in Inter-Organizational Relationships and Networks

B. Nooteboom

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This paper gives a survey of insights into inter-firm alliances and networks for innovation, from a constructivist, interactionist perspective on knowledge, which leads to the notion of 'cognitive distance'.It looks at both the competence and the governance side of relationships.Given cognitive distance, organizations need to align cognition sufficiently to enable the fast and efficient utilization of opportunities from complementary capabilities.This, I propose, is done by means of a culturally mediated 'organizational cognitive focus'.The problem with that is that it yields a greater or lesser organizational myopia that, for the sake of innovation, needs to be complemented by means of outside relations with other firms, at larger cognitive distance. Hence the importance of networks for innovation.On the governance side, the paper gives a review of relational risks and instruments to manage them.Next to the effects of cognitive distance, the paper analyses the effects of density and strength of ties in innovation networks, concerning both competence and governance.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • inter-organizational relationships
  • networks
  • competence
  • governance
  • innovation
  • cognitive distance


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