My research is focused on the question how individuals can best build and mobilize their networks to achieve innovative success. Effective networking for innovation may often require individuals to build connections to people outside the usual groups of trusted friends and like-minded individuals they may be most naturally inclined to connect to. My research aims to inform how individuals go about building the connections they need and assess how different approaches to building and mobilizing these connections help individuals to innovate.
I currently study the relation between networks and innovation in a range of different contexts:
- Networks of R&D scientists and managers in large corporations.
- Networks of entrepreneurs in geographical clusters.
This research builds forth on my past studies of venture capital syndication networks (Administrative Science Quarterly 2016; Small Business Economics 2012), the role of individuals in corporations’ approaches to open innovation (California Management Review 2014; Journal of Product Innovation Management 2015), individuals’ engagement in “underground” innovation projects (Organization Science 2014) and inter-firm and inventor networks in geographical clusters (Regional Studies 2013; Journal of Economic Geography 2014).
Research programme "Networking for Innovation"
Currently, I lead a research programme titled "Networking for innovation", funded by the European Research Council (2017-2022 Starting Grant).
“Networking is just a letter away from not working”, a phrase that perhaps reflects the pervasive negative sentiment associated with deliberate attempts to build, maintain or leverage one’s professional network. Despite this negative connotation, individuals continuously engage in behaviours – be they deliberate and strategic, or ad-hoc and spontaneous – that change their social network and the valuable resource it represents. Entrepreneurs in particular actively shape their professional networks to access key knowledge inputs, capital and other resources. Entrepreneurs striving to achieve innovative outcomes are typically well aware of the crucial need for social network resources, i.e. social capital, as an input for their efforts to generate new ideas and gain support for their realization.
My research programme aims to investigate the network-innovation relationship in economic geography from a network behavioural perspective. The main objective of my research is to generate insights into how network behaviours of entrepreneurs in geographical clusters enable them to achieve innovative outcomes and consequently help the clusters where they are located to thrive as hubs of innovation. In this approach, I depart from extant research on networks in economic geography and innovation studies that (a) relates individual ability to benefit from social capital mostly to network structure whilst disregarding individual decisions when to mobilize certain connections and (b) portrays network formation as a process guided by environmental and structural constraints whilst disregarding individual agency in terms of active network behaviour geared at building and maintaining ties.
My research programme foresees a large-scale and intensive data collection effort of network structural data, network behavioural data, and innovation achievement data at multiple points in time using a range of novel data collection methods. More specifically, I will use interviews, participant observation, experiments, networking monitoring tools such as sociometric badges and data from Twitter to identify and measure network behaviours.