Edited by Ard-Pieter de Man
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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