Example – Driving forces for network membership?

A recurring driving force in networks in their formative phase and growth phase is the personal commitment among the representatives for member businesses/actors. Having individuals involved and committed to the development of the field seems to be important to motivate people and actors to participate and move the network collaboration forward.

The driving forces that make it attractive for actors to participate include knowledge about the potential in the field, a desire for more value creation, and for businesses – a desire for contracts. Receiving support from the public sector in the form of services, counselling or financing is also an incentive. The initiators in a network that is in its formative phase express a desire to develop new collaborative relationships between suppliers, and to better integrate the industry value chains in the county. They also are attracted to network collaboration in order to develop new products and services and tackle growing competition from outsiders. In the more established network we see that members perceive collaboration as useful, so awareness of mutual dependency is an incentive to remain engaged. A positive atmosphere and attractive activities organized by the network appearantly stimulates participation.

Commonalities among all studied networks include:

  • Personal commitment (enthusiasts)
  • Knowledge of the potential for value creation
  • Desire to increase value creation
  • Desire for better competitive edge
  • Offer of support in the form of financing/counselling

Specific elements to networks in their formative phase include:

  • Innovation: The desire to develop a supply collaboration/new services and products in order to deliver to new markets, tackle growing competition, and develop/integrate industry value chains in the county.

Networks in their growth phase can be characterized with the following:

  • Perceived usefulness
  • Awareness of mutual dependency
  • Positive atmosphere
  • Attractive activities

Barriers to network membership?

An important barrier for actors’ participation across all networks is lack of time and capacity to participate in network collaboration. This may lead to some participants choosing to remain outside or only be minimally engaged. For a network in its formative phase, the lack of a functional venue of collaboration, no perceived benefit of the collaboration, or businesses having their own agendas and possibly other collaboration partners and networks, may be barriers to participating in the network.

In a wide-reaching network like IT Forum, one challenge was the disparate backgrounds and interests of the members, which made it difficult to develop project portfolios of interest to everyone, and which could contribute to common objectives. If the members find that the activities are not relevant to them, they may choose to reduce or cut their participation. One challenge to keeping the incentives alive is how the agendas and motivation for participating may be different for the business sector, academia and the public sector. Businesses desire practical project initiatives one can collaborate on – and they want quick results, while R&D and the public sector have longer term strategy and are less focused on practical results appearing quickly.

Commonalities among all studied networks include:

  • Lack of time and resources among the many small businesses
  • Very different backgrounds/interests/motivation: the activities are not interesting to all

Specific elements to networks in their formative phase include:

  • Lack of an operational arena for collaboration
  • Potential members do not see the benefit
  • Other networks/collaborations have priority

The LRA Pins network in Croatia has been clever in creating membership benefits. From the P-IRIS case description:

In the Development Agency Pins, we have made an innovative approach to solving the problem of agency sustainability through the development of services we offer to entrepreneurs and other clients, public administration. Thus, since 2016, we have introduced membership services that enable two-year payment for membership to provide businesses and other customers with services at significantly lower prices. At the same time, we have expanded the range of services offered to our clients through subcontracting services outside the organization, all designed to get the entrepreneur in one place in this rural area. The members began to gather through the network once a year and they began to cooperate and share experiences. We have also partnered with the founder (Municipallity of Skrad) to take over management of the resort in which we perform ticket sales to compensate for the lack of interest of entrepreneurs for such investments. Revenues generated from ticket sales are used for the development and implementation of various EU projects and are returning to the area multiple times, through new infrastructure projects of excursion sites, new tourist facilities and entrepreneurship development projects. Specifically, we introduced a new e-bicycle rental service to increase the visibility and promotion of the agency and the excursion site.

The content on this page is not optimised for smaller screen resolutions. Please visit this page with a resolution greater than 1080px in width.