Figure 9. Phases in the development of knowledge-sharing and innovative networks.

Developing knowledge-sharing innovative networks

Each phase is characterized by different activities. Table 5 describes the characteristics of the various phases in the development of a knowledge-intensive network where Toyota was the leading partner and sub-contractor (Dyer & Nobeoka, 2000).

The process is illustrated with a series of figures, see figure 9.

Table 5. The Toyota Network: The characteristics of the different phases.

Dimensions Formation Growth and maturation
Network Structure • A large network with leading actor as hub.
• Bilateral relations with leading actor.
• Weak ties among most members.
• Many structural gaps.
• Large network and many networks in the network
• Multilateral relations
• Strong ties in embedded networks and with leading actor
• Few structural gaps
Knowledge type • Explicit knowledge • Explicit and tacit knowledge
Membership motivation • Show commitment to the leading actor • Acquire valuable knowledge, innovation, self-supporting system

After Dyer & Nobeoka (2000).

Figure 9.1 illustrates the starting point as a fragmented group of businesses with little contact between the businesses and no tradition for collaboration. In the formative phase, a central force (figure 9.2), for example a business of some importance, may take the initiative to develop a network.

Initially, market participants often have bilateral relations with the central force but few multilateral contacts. As the network activities get going, multilateral contacts will develop (figure 9.3) and the initiator may decrease their own role in the network and start acting like a network participant on an equal footing.

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