Knowledge Management and Innovation in Networks

Knowledge Management and Innovation in Networks

Edited by Ard-Pieter de Man

As an ever-increasing amount of innovation takes place within networks, companies are collaborating in developing and marketing new products, services and practices. This in turn requires knowledge to flow across company boundaries. This book demonstrates how companies encourage this knowledge to flow in networks that can involve dozens of partners. Substantiated by five in-depth case studies of innovative networks, the authors identify and analyse the solutions implemented by companies in order to meet the key knowledge management challenges they encounter. Theoretical and management implications of the study are then defined.

Chapter 7: Making Horticulture Networks Bloom

Ard-Pieter de Man and Erik van Raaij

Subjects: business and management, knowledge management, organisational innovation, innovation and technology, knowledge management, organisational innovation


1 Ard-Pieter de Man and Erik van Raaij Dutch horticulture, and especially the growth of flowers and plants, has a dominant position in world markets. The vast majority of flowers and a considerable part of the market for plants are in the hands of Dutch producers. This is remarkable because most growers of flowers and plants are small, family-owned firms. In addition, the network is decentralized: there is no central party organizing knowledge flows. How these small firms have been able to conquer world markets is the topic of this chapter. The conclusion will show that knowledge exchange and innovation have led to a unique network that has enabled family firms to dominate the international market for flowers and plants. The success in innovation and knowledge sharing is explained by the fact that several complementary and overlapping mechanisms have come into being that stimulate innovation and solve the problems of network knowledge management. Informal relationships and implicit understandings play a significant role in preventing knowledge-sharing problems in the sector. The effectiveness of these mechanisms is enhanced substantially by the fact that the network is located in a very small region. BACKGROUND Cut flowers and potted plants are among the most successful export products of The Netherlands. Cut flowers have been the most competitive Dutch export product for a number of years (Jacobs et al., 1990), despite the fact that the Dutch climate is not particularly conducive to the growth of all varieties of plants that are grown in...

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