This paper presents an exploratory exercise to characterize the nature of inter-organizational networks and the strategic positioning of companies in five industrial sectors: pharmaceuticals, plastics, computers, electronics and instruments. Two types of networks in each sector are analysed: knowledge networks based on patent citations and technology alliance networks based on strategic partnerships. Three sets of results with significant policy and strategy implications underline both the need for better understanding of the social/competitive context within which companies operate and the utility of social network analysis in achieving this goal. First, apparent differences in the networking behaviour in simple technology’ sectors (pharmaceuticals) vis-Ã-vis networking behaviour in complex technology’ sectors (computers, electronics and instruments) are indicated. Second, a difference between knowledge and alliance networks across all examined sectors is pointed out in terms of their effectiveness as channels of knowledge communication. Third, apparent differences in the competitive positioning of European firms and firms from the United States and Japan in the examined sectoral knowledge networks may reveal significant variance in inter-continental business strategy.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Center for International Science and Technology Policy, George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA
Publication date: December 1, 2006