Edited by Michael Dietrich and Jackie Krafft
Tobias Buchmann and Andreas Pyka 33.1 INTRODUCTION Notions like clusters of innovation, innovation systems and innovation networks have become very popular in innovation economics and policy today. Often these concepts are used synonymously to describe the phenomenon of non-market interactions in innovation processes between various actors, which might be geographically (e.g., regional innovation networks) or technologically (e.g., sectoral innovation networks) concentrated. Contrary to the systemic view of the innovation systems approaches, in the theory of innovation networks an actor-based dimension joins the aggregate network dimension. Therefore, the network-based theories can be characterized to share a closer affinity to economic reasoning compared to the systemic approaches that are successfully applied in sociologically motivated innovation research. The actor-based dimension also connects the economic theory of innovation networks to the topic of this handbook – the theory of the firm. Innovation networks can be considered to blur firm boundaries and are pervasive. They ask for an encompassing framework in economic analysis. Agents are linked (1) intra-industrially in multilateral relationships with other agents in one industry as well as (2) inter-industrially with other agents from different industries either vertically or horizontally. Typical instances of intra-industrial linkages are mutual development of new products and services and various forms of knowledge exchange either framed by contractual agreements between the firms or informally organized among the scientists and engineers working for different companies. Typical instances of inter-industrial linkages are user–producer relationships between manufacturing companies and their suppliers or customers focusing on particular features of new technologies and...
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