Bridging Disciplinary Frontiers
Chapter 8: Policy on Business Networking in Ireland: A Review and Prospects for Evaluation
1 Helena Lenihan and Roger Sugden 1 INTRODUCTION In early 2006, the Irish Government announced a Pilot Initiative for Collaborative Projects from Industry-Led Networks, the latest in a series of policies on ‘business networking’ that date back to the mid-1980s. The purpose of this chapter is to describe and comment on those policies by reviewing the previous literature (both academic and policy documents). What we stress is that, over the years and across diﬀerent policies, the precise focus has varied, in terms of networking aims and objectives and networking forms.2 We appreciate that there is considerable confusion in the wider discussions as to the meaning of ‘networks’ and ‘networking’ in a business context, and indeed this has been recognized before in analysis of Irish policy (for example, in Forfás (2004)). However, our approach is to avoid much of that confusion by simply centring discussion on those (interrelated and overlapping) areas of policy that the literature on Ireland consistently addresses when considering ‘business networking’, namely, ‘linkages’ between ‘local’ ﬁrms and transnational/multinational corporations (TNCs); training networks; research and development (R&D) networks; inter-ﬁrm cooperation processes more widely. These four topics are respectively the prime focus of successive sections in this chapter. Our discussion culminates in a consideration of the prospects for the successful impact of the 2006 Pilot. We welcome the initiative as seeming to represent a welcome sea change in policy, and oﬀer preliminary insights into how it might be evaluated. In doing so we introduce the...
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