The roles of intermediaries in a regional knowledge system

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this article is to provide a tool to map the critical roles of intermediate organizations. To clarify the concept of intermediate organizations in a regional context, especially from the network dynamics point-of-view. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Regional dynamics are presented as networks of production, development and innovation in the regional cluster. The intermediaries are divided into national, regional and local level actors. The roles of the intermediaries from the network dynamics point-of-view are then illustrated with examples from a case study in a medical technology cluster located in a sparsely inhabited area in Finland. Findings ‐ According to the results of the case study, the regional intermediaries have the most important role in the creation and supporting of the network dynamics. The most critical roles include forming shared innovation strategies between the actors and attracting anchor tenants to the region. Research limitations/implications ‐ The characteristics of the case region are discussed in a generic sense with the concepts of social capital and communities of practice. Practical implications ‐ Conceptually, the article provides an approach to reducing the complexity of the regional networks to a more understandable level. The model provides a tool for the decision makers in a region to define the critical roles of the intermediaries from the network dynamics point-of-view. Originality/value ‐ The novel approach introduced in this paper addresses three gaps in existing research: it helps to define the concept of an intermediary in a regional context; it shows that the intermediaries have a much broader role in a region than just knowledge transfer and that the roles of the intermediaries differ on national, regional and local levels.

Keywords: Finland; Innovation; Intellectual capital; Intermediaries; Knowledge processes; Regional development

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2006

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