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Cooperation gains and network goods


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How can a firm increase its competitiveness? We would like to answer this question from a relational perspective that understands innovation as the result of collective effort and thus suggests the concept of the organised network. We argue that the purposeful development of organised networks enhances the individual entrepreneurial achievement and creates opportunities for collective innovation. In particular, we will try to explain which form of cooperation promises to be especially successful in order to enhance the competitiveness both of the individual members as well as the overall inter-firm network.
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Cooperation gains from network goods
Johannes Glückler and Ingmar Hammer
This is an Author’s Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Ashgate Publishing, Burlington
in Jung S, Krebs P and Teubner G (eds) Business Networks Reloaded. 2015: 22-41, doi:
10.5771/9783845261812-22, available online at: http://www.nomos-
1 Introduction
How can a firm increase its competitiveness? We would like to answer this question from a
relational perspective that understands innovation as the result of collective effort and thus
suggests the concept of the organised network. We argue that the purposeful development of
organised networks enhances the individual entrepreneurial achievement and creates
opportunities for collective innovation. In particular, we will try to explain which form of
cooperation promises to be especially successful in order to enhance the competitiveness both of
the individual firm members as well as the overall inter-firm network.
Organised inter-firm networks emerge from the intentional cooperation of independent
companies so as to jointly pursue and achieve economic objectives (Glückler 2012). The
concept of the organised network represents an independent perspective on inter-firm networks
that has so far attracted only little attention in research. Our analyses show that organised inter-
firm networks provide an opportunity to realize cooperation gains especially from the collective
creation of innovations. Based on a Germany-wide company survey we will illustrate the
relevance of organised networks and their significance for the creation of knowledge and the
process of learning.
Unlike sector or ego networks, which have been researched comprehensively, organised inter-
firm networks offer the particular advantage of pursuing multiple yet common purposes in an
organised framework of multilateral, collaborative interaction. In the pursuit of common goals
they hope to realize cooperation gains that are not achievable in isolation. Which forms of
cooperation exist? We will distinguish between various activities observable in organised inter-
firm networks and we will identify typical problems of the respective interaction levels. Which
form of cooperation is so decisive for an organised network that it compensates for the costs of
the network organisation? It is the joint development of network goods that are the property of
the network. The concept of network goods allows us to identify the value added of organised
networks that emerges if companies jointly create knowledge in different project groups, which
can subsequently be used by all members of the network.
This chapter is structured as follows: in part two we develop the concept of the organised inter-
firm network, which we qualify by comparison with existing network perspectives already
discussed in extant research. In part three we demonstrate the empirical significance of
organised inter-firm networks in the German economy and the opportunities they offer
regarding knowledge, learning and innovation. The basis for this is a Germany-wide survey of
180,000 companies. Based on thirteen case studies of organised inter-firm networks, part four
analyses the diversity of different activities among companies, which are aggregated into three
activity types with regard to the value added of the network organisation. In part five we
conceptualize the activity type of collective goods and develop it further into our approach of
network goods that not only describes the basic mechanism of collective knowledge creation
and cooperative knowledge use, but also holds it accountable for substantial cooperation gains.
The concepts and results achieved in this contribution were developed at Heidelberg University within
the scope of the research project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and
Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) and carried out between 2008 and
2011 with the purpose to develop concepts and governance forms of organised inter-firm networks. The
studies and concepts illustrated here are based on volume “Unternehmensnetzwerke: Architektur, Struktur
und Strategien” (Glückler et al. 2012).
2 The concept of the organised inter-firm network
2.1 General framework and the concept of entrepreneurial cooperation
Many companies only succeed in offering marketable products and services by linking their
resources with those of other companies. Together companies enter new markets, reduce costs
for common infrastructure, minimise entrepreneurial uncertainties or they cooperate based on
the division of labour in value chains. The rise of inter-firm cooperation is the result of an
increasingly dynamic environment, a functionally deepening and spatially expanding division of
knowledge-oriented work as well as flexible and cooperative strategies to access resources and
create value. The traditional management of innovation with its linear understanding of
knowledge creation and learning seems inappropriate in light of such developments.
Accordingly, linear models of innovation development give way to a reflexive understanding of
the creation of novelty. The notion of innovation is increasingly replaced by the notion of
learning because many innovations are to be understood as improving rather than radically
breaking with existing processes or organisational principles. Especially small and medium-
sized companies face the challenges of linking their limited resources with other companies and
of thus compensating for the diseconomies of (small) scale. However, recent studies show that
despite their need for cooperation especially small and medium-sized companies generally
cooperate less with other businesses (Destatis 2003) and if they do so they achieve less
innovation from the cooperation than large companies (Caloghiro et al. 2006). Consequently,
the management of innovation-oriented networks faces serious challenges. Research on the
organisation and the governance of organised inter-firm networks (Jones et al. 1997; Provan and
Kenis 2008) is still in its infancy.
From the perspective of social network theory, a network is defined as a specific set of relations
between a specific set of actors with the additional feature that the characteristics of these
relations as a whole can be used to interpret the behaviour of the actors (Mitchell 1969). This
perspective has two consequences: firstly, it places the relations centre stage of the analysis and,
secondly, it shows that the structure of the relations as a whole contains information about the
opportunities of individual as well as collective actors (Mizrucki 1994, Knoke and Kuklinski
1991). Thus, the network perspective is interested in the relations between the companies and
the action opportunities as well as the collective effects resulting therefrom for the entire
network. How can an inter-firm network be distinguished from its environment? In network
analytical organisational research, various perspectives have developed depending on the focus
of research that feature their own rules of delimitation.
2.2 Total and focal business networks
Total networks comprise all actors that maintain relations of a specific kind. The relation rather
than the actors primarily defines the network. Accordingly, an analysis of the inter-firm
alliances in biotechnology will only consider those biotechnology firms that are involved in
such relations (Owen-Smith and Powell 2004; Powell et al. 2005). Total networks depict the
complete structure of relations between companies and enable the analysis of network-specific
characteristics such as density, connectivity, fragmentation or centre-periphery-structures and
many more (Powell et al. 1996).
Focal networks and so-called ego networks each represent that part of an overall network that
depicts the neighbourhood of a focal actor. The focal network contains the focal actor, its
connected partners as well as the relations between these partners (Burt 1992). The research
interest focuses on the question of how individual actors should organise their direct relations to
achieve economic advantages. In manifold empirical studies Burt has demonstrated the positive
effect a position of structural autonomy in ego networks has on the careers and salary structures
of managers (Burt 1992; Burt et al. 2000; Burt 2004) or on the differential profit rates of
industry sectors in the system of economic input-output-relations (Burt 1988; Burt and Carlton
Total networks comprise an overall network of relations that is neither coordinated as a whole
nor perceived as a whole by the participants in the sense of a membership. In contrast, ego
networks exclusively concentrate on the strategic position and the opportunities of individual
actors. Neither network perspective is interested in multilateral and coordinated interaction
(Glückler 2012). The disadvantage of focal networks lies in the fact that they firstly fail to take
into account the complexity of the entire relations in the network and therewith secondly cannot
depict networks as collective organizations. The understanding of the totality of the network and
e.g. questions of collective gains, cohesion and sustainability of a network are thereby
overlooked (Provan and Milward 1995).
2.3 Organised inter-firm networks
Even though companies increasingly engage in collective forms of organisation, organised
networks have been virtually neglected in research. Only recently has the scientific interest of
structural network research focused on questions regarding the management of cooperative
groups that aim at achieving permanent cooperation gains (Provan and Kenis 2008). Various
approaches advance the phenomenon of multilateral, coordinated inter-firm cooperation by
using different notions such as e.g. federations (Provan 1983), multilateral networks (Human
and Provan 2000) or purposeful networks (Kilduff and Tsai 2003). It can be assumed that
organised networks of smaller and medium-sized companies were, at least in the USA, first
formed in the late 1980s at the earliest (Human and Provan 2000) and that even today many
companies are able to use only little network-specific management knowledge, besides the
established management concepts, to professionally, effectively and innovatively design and
manage this organisational form. The starting point of the research work presented in this
contribution is the notion of the organised network, which is at the same time the object of
knowledge of the following case study. Organized networks are definied as: “[…] ein
freiwilliger und absichtsvoller Zusammenschluss von Mitgliedern, der die multilaterale
Kooperation zwischen einer begrenzten Zahl von rechtlich unabhängigen Organisationen auf
ein gemeinsam geteiltes wirtschaftliches Ziel ausrichtet
(Glückler 2012, S. 7).
Networks are here considered multilateral if they comprise of at least three members that are
basically engaged in mutual cooperation so as to create or utilise collective goods. This criterion
excludes the bilateral cooperation of companies as its sole characteristic feature, which has
already been comprehensively researched in transaction cost theory and which neglects the
incentive problems in the production of collective goods (Podolny and Page 1998). Organised
“An organised network is a voluntary and purposeful affiliation of members that aligns the multilateral
cooperation among a limited number of legally independent organisations with a mutually shared
economic objective”.
networks form a type of organisation that is constituted of a certain degree of coordination and
collective awareness. While, for instance, a network of strategic alliances in biotechnology
includes all cooperation relations in the sector, an organised network merely refers to those
companies that are organised as members of a group in which they pursue cooperative goals.
Organised networks exhibit the basic elements of an organisation. An organisation is a system
of deliberately planned and coordinated actions based on the division of labour between a
limited number of members with a clear line demarcating the environment or the surroundings
(Bathelt and Glückler 2012, p. 201). Networks are then perceived as organised if they have an
identity and if management elements can be recognised at the network level. A network can
only be interpreted as organisation if it exhibits a minimum amount of demarcation vis-à-vis the
environment and if a minimal consensus exists about who belongs to the network and who
belongs to the environment. Whenever the members of a network share an understanding of a
joint membership and affiliation and the other members can identify the network, then the
network exhibits a collective identity that is discernable from the environment. In the empirical
practice, the network identity becomes visible e.g. through brands, a corporate form or a
documented description of the network as organisation (e.g. an online representation). The
criterion of identity is considered to be sufficient in order to include also less institutionalised
non-contractual forms of multilateral cooperation if they occur in awareness of collective
actions with an assignable circle of partners. This comparably soft definition allows non-
contractual forms of inter-firm networks to be considered that are based on mutual recognition,
exclusive membership and management founded on social habits and conventions (Glückler
3 Organised inter-firm networks in Germany
3.1 A Germany-wide company survey
Developing practical design concepts for a long-term multilateral cooperation of companies first
requires an empirical understanding of the occurrence, quality and diversity of different forms
of inter-firm networks in practice. We refer to a large-scale and Germany-wide field research
that screened the variety of inter-firms networks (Glückler, Janneck et al. 2012). In the scope of
this screening, three questions were paramount: What is the significance of organised inter-firm
networks in the German economy? Which formal features characterise these networks? Are
these networks innovative and which innovation goals do their member firms pursue? A
questionnaire was used to address characteristics of the geography, network size, innovation
successes and relations to other networks.
177,789 small and medium-sized companies with no more than 250 employees based in the
Federal Republic of Germany were invited to participate in an electronic survey. Among the
11,440 companies that responded 3,822 companies stated that they operated in networks.
However, among the 3,822 identified inter-firm networks merely 1,382 companies fulfilled the
criteria of the above-mentioned definition of an organized network. The following data pertains
to this pool of companies. Before putting the organised inter-firm networks into the context of
knowledge, learning and their significance for the entrepreneurial value creation, some typical
features of organised networks shall be illustrated. Organised inter-firm networks emerge in all
economic sectors and take almost all legal forms that can be chosen in Germany (Glückler,
Janneck et al. 2012). Project networks are rare; the overwhelming majority of companies design
their networks on a long-term basis and aim for cooperation for an unlimited period of time.
Geographically, the networks are almost equally allocated in balanced proportions among
regional, Germany-wide and international forms of cooperation. With regard to creation and
financing, the vast majority of networks act without public subsidies or participation. The
largest challenge networks face is the adequate distribution of rewards for the individual
contributions to the overall network outcomes. In this chapter we argue that an opportunity
emerges for companies to generate innovations by cooperating in organised networks. The role
organised networks play in the development of new products, marketing concepts and
organisational improvements shall be illustrated in the following part.
3.1 Knowledge and learning in organised business networks
The survey results (hereafter obtained from Glückler, Janneck et al. 2012) show that irrespective
of their objectives organised inter-firm networks have been conducive to innovation and
therefore may be a vehicle for new knowledge and learning. Networks are created for a wide
range of reasons. They can be set up to share costs or to jointly develop new knowledge or
creative ideas within the entrepreneurial group. This survey inquired after the basic orientation
of the networks and thereby distinguished the use of existing, the acquisition of external and the
creation of new resources by joint cooperation. More than three quarters of the firms joined a
network either to use or to commonly market their resources within their alliance. Only barely
one-seventh of all respondents was organised in networks to jointly create new resources, i.e. to
jointly develop new products or conduct research and development.
The low number of networks that built in pursuit of explicit research and development suggests
a low number of innovations that arise from the resource creating business networks. Much in
contrast, however, 70 per cent of the networks stated that they had already created an
innovation. Consequently and irrespective of the actual founding objective, the majority of
networks were capable of developing innovative products, processes as well as new
organisation or marketing concepts. Apparently, learning is especially well achieved in
organised networks, because their members co-create innovations even though innovativeness
need not be the leitmotif for the constitution of the network.
Whereas innovations occurred as a result both in innovation-oriented as well as in purely
utilisation-oriented networks, networks create different kinds of innovation depending on their
network objective. Following the typecast of the OECD we distinguish four types of innovation
(OECD 2005): product and process innovations more often refer to technical innovations than
organisation and marketing innovations. The analysis of the screening proves a clear statistic
association between the network objectives, the geography of the networks and the kind of
innovation results. Utilisation networks rather create organisation and marketing innovations,
are more often trans-regionally or internationally rather than locally organised and they count
more members than innovation networks. The smaller innovation networks, in contrast, rather
create product and process innovations and are more often than utilisation networks regionally
The survey at hand is one of the largest surveys on inter-firm networks in Germany. It provides
information about the relative significance and variety of networks in the cooperation of small
and medium-sized companies and illustrates the significance of organised inter-firm networks as
an important form of organisation to achieve entrepreneurial objectives. Organised inter-firm
networks are constructed very differently. A decisive result of the survey was that organised
networks not necessarily have to affiliate on an innovation-oriented basis in order to be
innovative. Many networks whose main objective did not lie in researching and developing
products or processes reported on the successful introduction of innovations resulting from the
work in the network. Apparently, organised networks are conducive to successful learning
processes and collective innovation. In the following section we use selected case studies to
elaborate more deeply into the various activity levels that may emerge within multilateral
cooperation and to analyse which of those are particularly important for successful collective
4 Activities of organised business networks
In thirteen case studies of organised networks among small and medium-sized enterprises
(SMEs) we have analysed the activities of the members by means of situated organizational
network analysis (Glückler and Hammer 2011). Typically, firms interact with each other at
multiple different levels of activity. We classify the empirical diversity of the individual activity
levels into three basic types: (i) management, (ii) the exchange of resources and (iii) the
production of collective goods. The following table provides an overview of the organised SME
networks examined and their main features. Which opportunities and which problems are
connected with the individual activity levels?
Table 1: Characteristics of the organised SME networks examined
All figures refer to the survey period in the year 2011. All networks mentioned are anonymised
by pseudonyms for reasons of confidentiality.
4.1 The management of the community
All SME networks examined have formalised the governance of the organisation as a
management function. Different entities take on the governance of organised affiliations. In
most cases, the administration as well as the collection of contribution fees and network
strategies in the business networks examined here are taken on by a central network
organisation. This organisation has its own branch office with office space as well as employees
in the administration and the departments. The members cover the thereby created costs with
network fees. The branch office also takes on the services provided by the network. The
networks under study offer their members services such as the joint purchase of production
goods, the monitoring of company processes or contract research. The amount of employees
varies considerably between the members. Small branch offices merely have one employee, the
largest network headquarters up to twenty. It is little surprising that the extent of the work
regarding the content increases the larger the size of the network organisation is, as the example
of GLASTEC illustrates. Graduated and post-doctoral employees working in the branch office
not only conduct research in commissioned work, but also within network projects. Network
projects or working groups are, in addition to the organisational administration, the central
means of governance in organised inter-firm networks. Network projects and network working
groups thereby serve to create collective goods. They are particularly important to realize
cooperation gains by developing valuable network goods. The network members monitor the
governance of the joint work in projects and working groups through monitoring committees.
The lateral management of network goods and the concomitant chances and problems have been
hardly researched so far and remain the object of future research (Glückler and Németh 2012).
4.2 The exchange of resources
The exchange of knowledge between the members is a critical network activity. From an
economic perspective, various intensities of knowledge flow can be observed starting with
simple tips and tricks or recommendations, successful methods or procedures reaching to firm-
specific knowledge affecting its competitiveness. We shall illustrate this with examples.
Members of the BioCon Network meet on a daily basis in the same canteen. Asked about the
knowledge exchange they report that during the meetings they pass on information, which,
however, never contains critical knowledge regarding the company (e.g. company processes,
biotechnical procedures or corporate key figures like contribution margins of business
processes). Instead, the exchange focuses on the recommendation of important external
cooperation partners such as patent lawyers or investors. The exchange of less important
knowledge is contrasted with forms of exchange that contain important business information.
Let us take a look at the example of DENTIS und COMRA.DE. In the case of DENTIS the
members exchange key performance indicators of production processes so as to jointly improve
these production processes in each individual member firm. In the case of COMRA.DE, the
members pass on programme codes to other network members in agreement with their
superiors. Both exchange processes have in common that, firstly, they occur free of charge and
that, secondly, the recipient of the information most benefits from the information. The
economic benefit of these exchanges may reach significant extents. Without the exchange the
companies would have to invest considerably more resources in order to achieve the same level
of corporate learning. Especially due to this tangible advantage the exchange of resources as
activity level is very common in all networks. The exchange of knowledge is thus able to
accomplish a considerable task, but this is also exactly where one of the largest problems of
bilateral knowledge exchange lies: the community hardly benefits from this form of bilateral
interaction. How, then, may the community benefit as a whole? This form of interaction is
called the production of collective goods.
4.3 The production of collective goods
Only few of the inter-firm networks examined have created collective goods over the course of
their development. Solely the network DENTIS has by means of a member-funded cooperation
created common goods, which are the property of the network and can be used in the scope of a
membership. The network members create collective goods by cooperating in working groups
and projects. The collective goods are accompanied by the network service. Network services
are offered by employees of the network and include tasks such as assisting with project
proposals, organising a purchasing pool or optimising business processes. These services are
subject to charge and have to be disbursed by the members. The earnings benefit the community
and are used to finance joint activities.
We argue that this type of activity, which creates network goods, is the key to the cooperation
gain in organised networks and generates particular value for the network as a whole. But how
is new knowledge jointly created? Which contributions do the members make and how are the
innovations used? We shall develop the concept of the network good for innovations created
and used collaboratively. The following section is based on a detailed case study of an organised
inter-firm network so as to examine the innovation-oriented design under concrete context
conditions (Glückler and Hammer 2012).
5 The network good: Creating and using knowledge collectively
5.1 From the club good to the network good
Knowledge-based collective goods are interesting from an economic perspective since they
create additional value and thereby offer incentives to join a network and to retain the
membership on a long-term basis. Innovative marketing concepts, new production processes or
exceptional technical methods that are developed in the community and at the exclusive
disposal of the members provide an opportunity for the individual companies to secure
competitive advantages vis-à-vis competitors outside of the network. With the concept of the
club good Buchanan (1965) introduced a concept that explains how goods in the community of
a club can be provided and used since the joint use of resources is afflicted with social dilemmas
either by free riding or crowding.
Let us assume a set of companies wants to share the use of a machine. They can pool the
financial means and acquire the resource at divided individual charges. However, if the circle of
participants is not restricted then the first dilemma emerges: Free riders are members who
indeed use the resource but have never contributed to its provision. Access controls solve the
problem, because only those who contribute resources to the acquisition are also allowed to use
the resource. However, if more members in a club would like to use a machine than capacities
available then the common resource is either overused in the course of crowding or the
individual benefit gets lost. Buchanan (1965) solves this problem with a cost-benefit model of
the optimal club size at which the members achieve the best compromise of individual costs and
benefits. The monitoring of the club size and the provision of the club good is ensued by third
parties. The central achievement of the club good theory lies in clarifying how a collective of
users can use an existing good without suffering from the dilemmas caused by free riding and
crowding. Can the club good theory be applied to knowledge goods in organised inter-firm
networks? Before answering this question we shall explain the concept of knowledge goods.
We assume that knowledge, similar to material goods, is rival in its use. For instance: A group
of companies has developed an extensive documented repository of knowledge over the years
that describes effective and efficient business processes and work flows and therewith allows
individual savings as well as creates access to a certification according to DIN-ISO standard. In
addition, this set of rules is updated and further developed on an annual basis. As long as only
few market participants use this document they enjoy a competitive advantage vis-á-vis their
competitors. The market advantage lies in the comparative cost advantages achieved by
improved business processes. This advantage is based on better knowledge, and may be subject
to the dilemma of crowding. If all market participants had access to this repository of
knowledge, the individual competitive advantage would disappear. Just as with material goods,
free riding is also possible with knowledge goods. One may only think again of the jointly
created document mentioned above to improve business processes. If companies use the results
of jointly created work without having contributed their own resources to its development then
they act as free riders in the classical sense and gain advantage by fraud at the expense of others.
Free riding and crowding are thus social dilemmas that also occur with the commercial use of
knowledge goods.
Therefore, we propose to develop the concept of the club good further to that of a network good.
There are three reasons for the theoretical deficit of the club good: Firstly, crowding is not a
problem within the group since knowledge can be replicated any number of times. In contrast to
the club theory, the problem of crowding emerges not among the members within the inter-firm
network but between club members and market participants outside of the club. Secondly, the
theory of club goods merely takes into account the use but not the production of collective
goods by members. Imagine a network affiliates new members. The joint development of
knowledge goods is at the core of the common goal of many business networks. It requires the
collective project work of the member companies. As a result, not only the members involved in
the project work, but all other network members can learn from this if the results are made
available in the entire network. However, since all members are equal partners and are not
authorised to discipline or command other members, the participation in a joint project is
ultimately left open to each member. This results in the possibility for the network members to
free ride. While in the concept of club goods the access control successfully excludes the free
rider, this is obviously not possible with a knowledge-based network good. The third problem
derives from the second: If the members contribute partially to the creation of the network good,
then the structure of cooperation between the members becomes important. Companies that
contribute more intensively by sharing their own knowledge, lose more of their competitive
advantage than those companies that contribute little or nothing at all. The theory of generalized
exchange (Bearman 1997), however, indicates that commitment and knowledge transfer will be
rewarded in the future in that network members are also more willing to pass on their own
knowledge to active members. In the following section, the example of DENTIS illustrates the
creation of knowledge-based network goods, their network value, the absence of the crowding
dilemma within the network, the production of network goods in the community by personal
contribution and the overcoming of the free riding problem.
5.2 The production of network goods
DENTIS is a successful organised network of SME dental laboratories. The 27 member-
companies employed overall 800 members of staff and generated about 50 million Euro revenue
during the reference year of the survey. Accordingly, DENTIS is one of the largest dental
laboratory networks in Germany. It represents roughly 1.5 per cent of the total turnover of the
dental industry in Germany. In comparison to many other dental laboratory networks, more than
three times as many companies have joined DENTIS. The member-companies are all
competitors. As dental laboratories they operate on the same stage of the value chain between
dentists and equipment providers. There are four forms of activities (see section four) in the
DENTIS network: the intercompany exchange of information, the bilateral leasing of production
capacities, the management of joint working groups and the joint development of network
goods. Figure 1 shows the networks of each of the four activities. The points represent the
member-companies; the arrows between the companies indicate the actual relation between the
Figure 1: Four activities in the business network DENTIS
In the production of network goods, a range of different members works together. The
cooperation in DENTIS is organised in project groups, in which new technologies, concepts and
products are developed for the members. At the time of the survey, DENTIS had eleven project
groups altogether, which cooperated in all aspects of the value chain such as procurement,
manual skills, process technology and marketing. In organised networks, the development of
network goods requires the multilateral input and recombination of individual skills and
expertise of the members to develop new knowledge or solutions. The solutions developed in
the various project groups are subsequently made available to all members. Beyond achieving
purely private advantages, DENTIS thus offers its members the opportunity to be able to
collectively generate and individually use additional value added at the network level. The
example of the production manual illustrates this. With great effort and during many years, a
project group has pursued the objective of collecting all important production stages and
production processes in dental technology practiced by all member-companies in the network
and to further develop them with external consultants. Many dental technicians and dental
technician masters researched and integrated the technical details in a database, which is now
available to all members in form of a production manual. The production manual is a complete
template about how every dental technical product possibly imaginable is to be produced in
order to combine high quality and speed. The production manual is specifically adjusted by
every laboratory. The individual advantage lies in the fact that obvious rationalisation potential
becomes apparent in the individual company by implementing the proposed production ways in
that e.g. the same products can be produced in a shorter time. Crowding is not a possible effect
for this network good since it can be reproduced as often as needed without great costs for every
existing and also any new member. The competition advantage vis-à-vis non-members always
remains as long as the good does not become a public good.
What are the benefits of the network goods for the individual companies and the community?
Members of DENTIS evaluate the outcome of their project groups as profitable and lucrative.
They were able to achieve savings by either improved processes, increased process quality or by
innovative marketing concepts. This advantage of collective cooperation becomes apparent in
the scope of a benefit assessment carried out by the members. Merely five out of the 27
members rate the project groups rather poorly. All other members evaluated their individual
benefits as clearly positive. However, not only do the member-companies gain benefits from
network goods, but also the network as a whole. As a limited liability company DENTIS is the
proprietor of licensing rights and collective expert knowledge. The common property improves
the attractiveness of a membership. Members enjoy larger incentives to stay and applicants are
generally willing to accept higher fees for a new membership. Despite this very positive result
the members’ individual benefit assessments vary clearly. Why do the members evaluate the
benefit of the network goods in different ways if it is impossible that crowding impairs the
benefits? With the solution to this question we will approach the solution to the free riding
problem in relation to knowledge-based network goods.
How is the problem of free riding regarding network goods overcome? If merely some members
jointly develop a new solution, but all other members are also allowed to use it then the benefits
should be distributed equally among all members. Hence, how is the individual utility indeed
distributed? Those members who are highly engaged in the project cooperation at the same time
report significantly higher individual benefits than lesser-involved members. In the end, the
individual benefit of knowledge goods depends on the extent of the individual involvement in
the production process to be able to understand and absorb new knowledge. Learning processes
imply learning costs so that knew knowledge that was exclusively developed by others is
sometimes possibly less well understood or less adequately used.
7 Conclusion
The ability to initiate or affiliate with organised inter-firm networks may enhance both
individual and collective competitiveness: trans-regionally, if companies are a part of nationally
and internationally organised networks as well as regionally, if they are members of local
networks. We develop the concept of the organised network as a specific type of multilateral
organization of independent firms that is particularly conducive to the creation of network
goods and thus to realize enduring cooperation gains. In organised networks, companies enjoy
the possibility to create new knowledge with divided responsibilities by means of different
project groups. This knowledge can be exclusively used by all network members. The observed
value of knowledge is especially large if the companies use the jointly created knowledge to
improve their own processes, i.e. if learning is aligned with the own company. The Germany-
wide survey and the identification of roughly 4,000 networks show the empirical importance of
this form of cooperation. The advantages of organised networks are underscored by the fact that
most of these networks reported successful innovations in the course of their collaboration.
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... In this article, I would like to advance the concept of lateral network governance in a specific empirical context of interorganizational networks that has received only limited attention in governance research: the organized network. An organized network is a voluntary and deliberate association of members that directs multilateral cooperation between a limited number of legally and economically independent organizations towards a shared economic goal (Glückler & Hammer, 2015). Expectations of autonomously exercising control in partnership with each other are either inconsistent with rigid decision-making hierarchies or impossible to meet, for weak governance cannot ensure compliance. ...
... Its governance structure typifies shared governance with a jointly operated NAO (Provan & Kenis, 2008). I researched both organized networks according to the research procedure SONA-situational organizational network analysis (Glückler & Hammer, 2015;Glückler, Panitz, & Hammer, 2020)-and evaluated them for an extended period. SONA includes qualitative observation during personal and group interviews as well as quantitative data gathered with a standardized network survey and evaluated with methods of social network analysis. ...
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The author of this article goes beyond acknowledging networks as a governance mode to elaborate on the actual forms of governance that convey legitimate and acceptable coordination. He advances the concept of lateral network governance in the empirical context of organized networks, in which organizations pool resources and join their interests in the pursuit of common goals. To solve the puzzle of having independent equals commit themselves to coordinating their actions, the author aims to overcome the traditional dualism between formal and informal mechanisms of governance. Instead, he conceives lateral network governance as a structure for the legitimate delegation of decision-making. He develops a social network analytic approach to assessing the relational distribution of legitimacy. With his empirical analysis of two case studies of inter-firm network organizations, he illustrates the degree to which the actual legitimacy distribution diverges from formal governance authority. Lateral network governance has practical implications for inter-organizational networks and network managers.
... So-called network goods are one way to achieve common goals that would be unattainable without partners. Essentially, network goods are collective outcomes from collaborative effort and have the additional advantage of being available to all members of a given social group regardless of their individual contributions to the creation of those goods (Glückler & Hammer, 2015). Because innovation refers to the process of introducing and disseminating new solutions on a market (Akrich, Callon, Latour, & Monaghan, 2002), it does not depend on invention alone. ...
... As Dyer and Hatch (2006) ascertained for the automotive industry, a mutual opening of the firm is to the advantage of all of the partners. However, a convention of friendly imitation is also an opportunity to develop excellent practices for developing common learning processes and, at a later stage, to establish network goods (Glückler & Hammer, 2015). Network goods in ...
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Imitation is a key learning mechanism for inventions. What are the conditions that favor learning by imitation? A perspective of social networks focuses on the effect of connectivity on knowledge outcomes. A geographical perspective focuses on the spatial dimension of social relations and the role that physical contiguity plays in knowledge creation. These perspectives have largely been used separately. This chapter’s authors investigate the interactive effect of connectivity and spatial proximity on mechanisms of learning, arguing that connectivity among firms facilitates purposive collaboration and forms of friendly imitation, whereas spatial proximity also enhances mutual visibility among even disconnected firms, raising the incentives for unfriendly forms of rival imitation. The case study demonstrates that the co-occurrence of connectivity and colocation facilitates both friendly and unfriendly practices of imitation. The social tensions that emerge from unfriendly imitation are mitigated by social conventions and sanctions and thus help realize individual long-term collective opportunities.
... Los objetivos de Dentis eran lograr una producción en red y buscar el desarrollo conjunto de nuevos conceptos y soluciones en marketing, distribución, TI, estándares de calidad, capacitación y otras áreas. La estructura de gobierno de Dentis tipifica el gobierno compartido con una NAO operada conjuntamente (Provan & Kenis, 2008 Ambas redes organizadas fueron investigadas según el procedimiento de investigación SONA -análisis situacional de redes organizacionales (Glückler & Hammer, 2015) y evaluadas durante un período prolongado. SONA hace uso de la observación cualitativa durante las entrevistas personales y grupales, así como de los datos cuantitativos recopilados con una encuesta estandarizada de redes y evaluados con métodos de análisis de redes sociales. ...
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Este artículo va más allá del reconocimiento de las redes como un modo de gobernanza para elaborar sobre las formas reales de gobernanza que transmiten una coordinación legítima y aceptable. Avanza el concepto de gobernanza lateral de redes en el contexto empírico de las redes organizadas, en el que las empresas ponen en común sus recursos y unen sus intereses en la búsqueda de objetivos comunes. Para resolver el rompecabe-zas de tener iguales independientes que se comprometan a coordinar sus acciones, el documento pretende superar el dualismo tradicional entre los mecanismos formales e informales de gobernanza. En su lugar, concibe la gobernanza lateral de la red como una estructura para la delegación legítima de la toma de decisiones. Desarrolla un enfoque analítico de redes sociales para evaluar la distribución relacional de la legitimidad. El análisis empírico de dos estudios de caso de organizaciones de redes entre empresas ilustra el grado en que la distribución real de la legitimidad difiere de la autoridad formal de gobernanza. La gobernanza lateral de redes tiene consecuencias prácticas para los gerentes de redes.
... Als Beispiel f?r die bilaterale Kooperation kann das Netzwerk der AUDI AG in Ingol- stadt betrachtet werden (Pechlaner & D?pfer, 2014;Thierstein et al., 2011 (Hammer & Gl?ckler, 2014;Hammer & Gl?ckler, 2015 ...
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In der heutigen global kooperierenden Wirtschaftswelt sind Unternehmensnetzwerke nicht nur ein Erfolgsfaktor, sondern Voraussetzung für wettbewerbsfähiges unternehmerisches Handeln. Kooperationen können Ressourcen einsparen und das Angebot an Dienstleistungen und Produkten erweitern. Aus lokaler Perspektive können diese Netzwerke dazu beitragen vorhandene Potentiale bestmöglich zu entfalten und die Region zu einem attraktiven Standort für Unternehmen zu machen. Besonders in investitionsintensiven Bereichen wie Forschung & Entwicklung können Innovationsnetzwerke eine gewinnbringende Strategie sein, wobei nicht nur die Unternehmen selbst, sondern auch andere Akteure innerhalb einer Region eine wichtige Rolle spielen. Anhand der Analyse des Regionalen Innovationssystems in Südtirol, sowie Beispielen aus anderen Regionen in Europa, zeigt dieses Buch einerseits Herausforderungen, vor welchen die Unternehmen stehen und andrerseits Möglichkeiten, welche für die zukünftige Entwicklung eine wichtige Rolle spielen. Wie findet Innovation in den Unternehmen statt und wie innovationsfähig sind die Betriebe? Welches sind aus Unternehmensperspektive die zentralen Akteure bei der Umsetzung von Innovation? Wie entsteht in anderen Regionen Innovation? Diese und andere Fragen werden im Buch diskutiert. Im Mittelpunkt steht dabei die Rolle von Innovationsnetzwerken in der unternehmerischen Praxis. Nell’economia globale di oggi, le reti aziendali non sono solo fattore di successo, ma anche prerequisito per un’imprenditorialità competitiva. Le cooperazioni possono contribuire al risparmio di risorse e all’ampliamento dell’offerta di prodotti e servizi. Visti da una prospettiva locale, questi network possono essere un importante fattore per sviluppare nel miglior modo possibile il potenziale endogeno e per rendere una Regione un luogo attraente per le imprese. Soprattutto in ambiti che richiedono investimenti elevati, come Ricerca & Sviluppo, le reti di innovazione possono essere una strategia vincente, dove non solo le aziende stesse, ma anche altri attori a livello regionale hanno un ruolo fondamentale. A partire dall’analisi del Sistema d’Innovazione Regionale dell’Alto Adige, e di esempi da altre Regioni Europee, questo libro mostra da una parte le difficoltà (di fronte alle quali si trovano le aziende) e dall’altra le possibilità (che possono avere un ruolo importante per lo sviluppo futuro). Come si fa innovazione nelle imprese e quali capacità di innovazione hanno le imprese? Quali sono gli attori principali per l’implementazione di innovazione da una prospettiva aziendale? Come si sviluppa l’innovazione in altre Regioni? Queste e altre domande saranno affrontate in questo libro mettendo al centro il ruolo dell’impresa e delle reti di innovazione nella prassi aziendale.
The study of networks has been characterized by a dualism of methods. Researchers either use interpretive methods to explore the quality of social relations, or quantitative methods to assess the formal structure of network connectivity. However, because relational and structural characteristics of networks are interdependent, we present a method for Situational Organizational Network Analysis to overcome this dualism. In sequencing and integrating qualitative, quantitative and action research techniques, SONA is designed to help unveil authentic understand-ings of socially meaningful structure in compliance with research ethics. Drawing on a decade of research experience we describe the workings of this integrative method and elaborate on its valued-added compared to single methods. Building on selected applications, we demonstrate how the tailored use of SONA enhances cross-validation , supports original theory-building, and empowers reflexive transformative research.
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Le territoire en tant que système de lieux, de liens et d’acteurs se construit et se renouvelle sans cesse en fonction de son contexte socio-culturel, géographique, politique, historique... Il est à la fois acteur et facteur de développement économique et social à différentes échelles imbriquées. L’enjeu analytique et opérationnel n’est plus seulement une question de dotations en ressources, de distance et d’accès au marché, mais repose sur la compréhension et la mise en capacités d’un système complexe en constante mutation. Le rôle joué par les institutions locales, les interactions entre les acteurs et effets de proximité multiples sont autant d’éléments qui conditionnent aussi les processus de développement des territoires. Des facteurs endogènes du développement local s’articulent aux facteurs exogènes, qui vont à leur tour influer sur les dynamiques territoriales. En ce sens, le développement territorial repose sur la question du dedans et du dehors, sur celle des flux internes et externes qui irriguent les territoires, mais aussi des liens multi-scalaires que construisent et entretiennent les acteurs. Comment ces systèmes ont-ils évolué sur un temps long ? Le présent manuscrit met en évidence la diversité des impacts territoriaux suite aux chocs, aux crises ou au contraire aux périodes fastes au cours des deux derniers siècles. L’étude de ces processus territorialisés nécessite des cadres conceptuels, des outils, des méthodes propres à l’analyse territoriale. La mobilisation d’indicateurs et de théorie purement macro-économiques appliqués à des échelles infranationales ne peut être satisfaisante. Au fil des pages qui suivent, des notions, concepts et méthodes de l’aménagement et de la géographie sont mises en œuvre pour tenter de comprendre les mutations des systèmes territoriaux.
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Grundlage der Entwicklung von Lösungsansätzen für das Management organisierter Netzwerke sind einerseits ein angemessenes und gemeinsames Zielverständnis der Mitglieder, andererseits eine empirisch fundierte Bewertung der Rahmenbedingungen des Netzwerks sowie der potenziellen und realisierten Interaktionen zwischen den Unternehmen. Neben der Analyse formaler Aspekte der Netzwerkarchitektur (s. Kap. 3 und 4) erfordert ein zielführendes Netzwerkmanagement eine profunde Analyse der Netzwerkstruktur, d. h. der tatsächlichen Interaktionen in wirtschaftlichen Beziehungen und der Governance des Netzwerks. Nur aus der Kenntnis der tatsächlichen Beziehungen lässt sich eine Zahl von Unternehmen als Netzwerk erkennen und entsprechend bewerten. Und erst die Kenntnis der tatsächlichen Kooperationsstrukturen ermöglicht es, angemessene Konzepte und Maßnahmen zur Verbesserung der Zusammenarbeit und der Koordination der Interaktionen zu entwickeln. In diesem Kapitel diskutieren wir einige zentrale methodische Herausforderungen in der empirischen Analyse organisierter Netzwerke und entwickeln das spezifische Untersuchungsverfahren SONA – situative organisatorische Netzwerkanalyse (Glückler und Hammer 2011) – als Netzwerkzeug (Sydow und Lerch 2011) für die empirische Analyse in Netzwerkfallstudien (s. Kap. 6, 8 und 17).
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A phenomenon of the last 20 years has been the rapid rise of the network form of governance. This governance form has received significant scholarly attention, but, to date, no comprehensive theory for it has been advanced, and no sufficiently detailed and theoretically consistent definition has appeared. Our objective in this article is to provide a theory that explains under what conditions network governance, rigorously defined, has comparative advantage and is therefore likely to emerge and thrive. Our theory integrates transaction cost economics and social network theories, and, in broad strokes, asserts that the network form of governance is a response to exchange conditions of asset specificity, demand uncertainty, task complexity, and frequency. These exchange conditions drive firms toward structurally embedding their transactions, which enables firms to use social mechanisms for coordinating and safeguarding exchanges. When all of these conditions are in place, the network governance form has advantages over both hierarchy and market solutions in simultaneously adapting, coordinating, and safeguarding exchanges.
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Although federations sometimes have been the focus of organizational research, a comprehensive discussion of the subject has yet to emerge. This paper is an in-depth examination of the federation as a type of interorganizational linkage network. Conditions conducive to federation formation are examined, three general types of federations focusing on differences in their network structure are identified, and the implications of federation affiliation for strategic level decision making autonomy are discussed.
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This paper presents the results of a comparative study of interorganizational networks, or systems, of mental health delivery in four U.S. cities, leading to a preliminary theory of network effectiveness. Extensive data were collected from surveys, interviews, documents, and observations. Network effectiveness was assessed by collecting and aggregating data on outcomes from samples of clients, their families, and their case managers at each site. Results of analyses of both quantitative and qualitative data collected at the individual, organizational, and network levels of analysis showed that network effectiveness could be explained by various structural and contextual factors, specifically, network integration, external control, system stability, and environmental resource munificence. Based on the findings, we develop testable propositions to guide theory development and future research on network effectiveness.
Wie können Netzwerke organisiert werden, um sowohl den einzelnen Mitgliedern Kooperationsgewinne zu ermöglichen als auch dauerhaften Wert und Zusammenhalt auf der Netzwerkebene zu schaffen? Das Buch richtet eine neue Perspektive auf die multilaterale Zusammenarbeit in organisierten Netzwerken. Anstelle das Netzwerk nur aus der Sicht des einzelnen Unternehmens zu betrachten, widmet sich dieses Buch insbesondere der Ebene des Netzwerks als Organisationsform. Das Autorenteam aus Wissenschaftlern, Unternehmens- und Rechtsberatern entwickelt und diskutiert neue Konzepte, um das Design und die Governance von Netzwerken erfolgreich zu gestalten und die Innovativität organisierter Netzwerke zu fördern. Im Mittelpunkt stehen die Konzepte des Netzwerkguts, der lateralen Governance und der Mikropolitik sowie Herausforderungen bei der Wahl der Rechtsform, der Koordinations- und Controllinginstrumente oder der Einführung von Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien in die Netzwerkarbeit. Auf der Grundlage der in diesem Buch entwickelten Methode der situativen organisatorischen Netzwerkanalyse analysiert das Buch in konkreten Fallstudien Netzwerke kleiner und mittlerer Unternehmen in Deutschland auf drei Ebenen: der Ebene der formellen Netzwerkarchitektur, der Ebene tatsächlicher Kooperationsstrukturen und der Ebene der Netzwerkakteure. Im Zuge mehrjähriger Forschungsbegleitung und Netzwerkberatung werden Erfahrungen und erprobte Konzepte in konkreten Projekten vorgestellt, um Unternehmensnetzwerke in ihrer Professionalisierung zu unterstützen. Das Buch nutzt interdisziplinäre Konzepte aus den Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften sowie der Informatik und entwickelt eine relationale Perspektive zur Analyse, zum Design und zur Steuerung von Unternehmensnetzwerken, die neue Ansätze für ein situatives und effektives Netzwerkmanagement anbieten.
Wenn sich Unternehmen in multilateralen Netzwerken organisieren, bedarf es neben einem Zielkonsens und einem gemeinsamen Geschäftsmodell einer funktionierenden Steuerung der Zusammenarbeit: wie sollen Netzwerke gestaltet und gesteuert werden, um eine effektive Erreichung von Kooperationszielen zu unterstützen? Diese Frage der Governance von organisierten Unternehmensnetzwerken hat erst in jüngster Zeit erkennbare Aufmerksamkeit erfahren. Hierbei werden einige wichtige Aspekte der Governance erörtert, wie z. B. die rechtliche Ausgestaltung von Netzwerken (Schäfer 2009; Glückler et al. 2011a; s. auch Kap. 7), die Lenkung von Wissens- und Kommunikationsflüssen im Netzwerk, die Einflüsse von Macht und Vertrauen auf Netzwerkbeziehungen (Bachmann 2000, 2001; Friedkin 1983), der Einsatz von standardisierten Abläufen und Instrumenten des Controlling (s. Kap. 3 und 4) oder die Taktiken von Netzwerkmanagement und -mitgliedern zur Koordination der Zusammenarbeit (s. Kap. 11). Jenseits dieser wichtigen Ansätze ist gerade in den letzten Jahren ein grundsätzlicher Mangel wissenschaftlicher Kenntnis darüber konstatiert worden, welche Strukturen und Praktiken der Governance sich für welche Kontexte der vernetzten
Die Kooperation von Unternehmen verspricht vielfältige Vorteile, die ohne externe Partner nicht möglich wären (z. B. Galaskiewicz 1985; Podolny 2001; Borgatti und Molina 2004). Der Glaube an Kooperationsgewinne und Vernetzungsvorteile beflügelt auch das öffentliche Interesse, Unternehmen in der Bildung regionaler Netzwerke, z. B. durch Clusterinitiativen, zu fördern, um Arbeitsplätze zu sichern oder neu zu schaffen. Doch trotz regionaler Cluster und nationaler Förderpolitik, hoher Fördersummen und großem politischen Engagement sind die Erfolgsgeschichten von Netzwerken nicht sehr zahlreich. Warum ist es so schwierig, eine nachhaltig erfolgreiche Zusammenarbeit von Unternehmensnetzwerken zu schaffen?
Unternehmensnetzwerke haben in den letzten Jahrzehnten große Beachtung erfahren. Die ökonomische Bedeutung und die unternehmerischen Möglichkeiten, die sich der Wirtschaft durch Kooperation eröffnen, sind in vielfältigen Forschungsansätzen untersucht worden. Trotz der großen Zahl bisheriger Studien sind wichtige Fragen zur empirischen Verbreitung und Bedeutung von Unternehmensnetzwerken unbeantwortet geblieben. Daher herrscht immer noch Unklarheit über die tatsächliche Verbreitung sowie die Besonderheiten und Charakteristika von Unternehmensnetzwerken. In einem ersten Schritt besteht das Ziel dieses Forschungsprojektes krea.nets daher darin, die Verbreitung organisierter Unternehmensverbünde in einer deutschlandweiten und branchenübergreifenden Unternehmensbefragung zu erfassen. Der Fokus dieser Studie liegt auf organisierten Netzwerken, in denen sich Partner im Netzwerk untereinander kennen und sich gleichzeitig alle Netzwerkteilnehmer ihrer Zugehörigkeit zum Netzwerk bewusst sind (s. Kap. 1). Unternehmensnetzwerke treten in vielfältigen Formen auf. Dieses Kapitel stellt einige grundlegende Ergebnisse aus der nach unserem Kenntnistand größten Umfrage zu Unternehmensnetzwerken in Deutschland vor, die im Rahmen des Verbundvorhabens krea.nets durchgeführt wurde.
Das Netzwerk ist zu einem Schlüsselkonzept der wirtschaftlichen Zusammenarbeit zwischen Unternehmen geworden. In den letzten drei Jahrzehnten haben Unternehmen infolge vertikaler Desintegration (Scott 1988), flexibler Spezialisierung (Storper und Christopherson 1987; Piore und Sabel 1984) und erhöhten Innovationsdrucks zunehmend Kooperationsbeziehungen mit anderen Unternehmen aufgebaut, um Ressourcen außerhalb des eigenen Unternehmens zu erschließen und somit die eigene Wettbewerbsfähigkeit zu sichern oder zu steigern. So entstanden Formen des wirtschaftlichen Austauschs, die weder durch Preiswettbewerb noch durch Unternehmenshierarchien koordiniert werden. Diese Formen der zwischenbetrieblichen Zusammenarbeit werden allgemein unter dem Begriff des Unternehmensnetzwerks zusammengefasst, der seit den 1980er Jahren zunehmend in den Fokus der wissenschaftlichen Diskussion geriet (Galaskiewicz 1985). Die wiederholte und dauerhafte Zusammenarbeit von Unternehmen entzieht sich dem Verständnis des am Markt herrschenden Preiswettbewerbs einerseits und der hierarchischen Autorität andererseits (Powell 1991).
Klassische und neue Theorien der Wirtschaftsgeographie laden zur kritischen Würdigung ihrer empirischen Anwendbarkeit ein! Die 4. Auflage der Wirtschaftsgeographie wurde von den Autoren vollständig überarbeitet. Traditionelle Konzepte wurden zum besseren Verständnis gestrafft, neuere Ansätze aktualisiert und erweitert. Illustrative Fallbeispiele und über 100 Grafiken unterstützen das vorlesungsbegleitende Selbststudium. Die insgesamt 15 Kapitel sind sechs Buchteilen zugeordnet: Einführung, Ansätze und Grenzen der Raumwirtschaftslehre, Interaktion und Institution, Organisation, Evolution, Innovation. Das moderne Layout erleichtert das Lernen, Fallbeispiele in separaten Infoboxen visualisieren den Transfer in die Praxis. Ein Bachelor- und Master-Studienbuch für Studierende der Geographie, der Sozial- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften sowie alle, die sich für das Verhältnis von Raum und Wirtschaft interessieren.