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Building and sustaining inter-firm networks: lessons from training and enterprise councils

Huggins, Robert ORCID: 1998. Building and sustaining inter-firm networks: lessons from training and enterprise councils. Local Economy 13 (2) , pp. 133-150.

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The academic discussion of business co‐operation and networks is often undertaken in fairly abstract terms. The objective of this paper is to add some realism through “on‐the‐ground” examples of inter‐firm networks in which Training and Enterprise Councils (TECS) have acted in a facilitating and supportive capacity. This paper considers the practicalities and problems that TECs, often in the shape of “network brokers”, have encountered in facilitating the building and sustaining of local inter‐firm networks, primarily among SMEs, in a number of differing scenarios. It was found that the most effective and sustainable networks are initially based on informal relations, such as those developed through voluntary attendance at “learning” workshops and seminars. As trust emerges and bonds are gradually gained these arrangements may evolve into more formal and long‐term associations. It is suggested that the initial focus of projects should consist of expanding the “stakeholder webs” of SMEs through learning networks that focus on building the stock of social capital. Furthermore, gaining sufficient reserves of social capital should be considered prior to the planning of any formal “dotted line” commercial or innovation‐based relations.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
ISSN: 0269-0942
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2022 08:42

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