Chapter 3 – Tools for running/maintaining networks
In chapter 3, we present a tool for each of the seven functions creating the dynamics in a network. The seven tools presented we consider important to promote successful network cooperation in an innovative ecosystem (Bergek, 2008; Nesse, 2017):
1. Membership benefits: Joining and participating must be seen as attractive.
2. Knowledge development and sharing: The network needs to develop new knowledge and share it among its participants.
3. Innovation: It is necessary that innovation actually occurs through the network. In other words, something new needs to be produced by the network, something that would not have been possible without the network – for instance, products, procedures or ways of organizing.
4. Networks in the network: Actors in the network need to be tied together by developing the relational resources – by connecting the right people.
5. Resources: The network needs the ability to obtain funding, build contacts and knowledge in a more effective way than what the single participant would be able to do.
6. Legitimacy: The network needs legitimacy. Participants and others outside the network alike have to see the network as credible and positive.
7. External benefits: The network needs to be useful beyond the ones who participate. The knowledge and products that is developed should be useful also to others. If a freeloader is discovered, this is a sign that the network has been a success.
By working on the network’s functions, the network will be developed and one will also get a clearer idea of what the driving forces are, and what the barriers to collaboration in the network are. Such experiences could be summed up by using a SWOT analysis; a brief overview over the network’s internal strengths and weaknesses, and the external opportunities and threats. We do not present SWOT analysis in detail in this toolbox, but more information about SWOT can be found in nearly any textbook in business strategy, or by searching the internet.