Developing relationships in innovation clusters: Insights from a business-university case study

This study assesses the composition of micro-level behaviours embedded within innovation clusters. Drawing on network theory of innovation, we examine the relational complexities of a specific university-business form of clustered exchange to characterise the actor level behaviours that influence the breadth and spread of network involvement. Whilst some current research posits behavioural attributes of clustered networks, there have been few studies that have focused on the extent of influence that individuals have on the development of value creating relationships, the roles individuals play and the various factors that have the potential to impact their effectiveness. This conceptual development study provides insights into the actor-level behavioural features that play a central role in promoting the innovation effectiveness of these regions. The findings of this three year long ethnographic study suggest that in the face of resource constraints individuals act as agents in creating and sourcing external input for the benefit of their projects. This has implications for policy-makers as well, as our findings suggests that policies should be shaped to provide enabling factors for boundary-spanning, thus allowing relationships to be equipped with the ability to manage complex partner contexts to access the benefits of diversity.