Network connections and innovation capacity in traditional agrifood chains

In the New Economy, the network is considered as more important than the firm itself. In this paper the focus is on chain networks which include vertical networks among chain members, horizontal networks with peers, and networking with third parties. Networks have an important role in the diffusion and adoption of innovations, thus they are the locus of innovation. While previous research focused on the firm, we contribute to the understanding of innovations in chain networks, i.e. we investigate the innovation capacity in vertical networks and how networking with peers and third parties is influencing the innovation capacity of the vertical network. We propose that there is a positive relationship between the network connections the direct chain partners have with peers and third parties and the innovation capacity of the vertical network. Data were collected from 90 direct agrifood chains in the traditional food sector. Cluster analysis suggested three clusters of chains corresponding to three distinct levels of innovation capacity: low, medium and high. Via descriptive analysis and binary logistic regression the influence of networking with peers and third parties on the innovation capacity of the vertical network was investigated. Our results confirm our proposition. However, we found that the chain partners are either horizontally or vertically networking for innovation. Nevertheless, more networking within the chain and with peers and third parties is linked to higher levels of innovation capacity. Consequently, our study adds to the research in the field of the New Economy by deepening the understanding of how innovation capacity is developed in vertical networks. We can confirm that the network is very important for the development and implementation of innovations and that the innovation capacity of one firm is linked to the innovation capacity of its chain partners. For future research we propose to investigate the link between networking for innovation and types of innovation which can be achieved. Further, future research should explore further inter-organizational links in the chain network and explore wider networks than the direct chain.

Issue Date:
Oct 27 2010
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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