Most scientific studies on innovation deal with high-technology sectors, although medium-technology industries are still the most relevant contributors to employment and market shares in Europe. Based on three different methodological approaches (social network analysis, regression analysis and qualitative research), the importance of technology-specific, firm-specific and region-specific factors on the structure of innovation networks in medium-technology sectors is investigated. It can be shown within this explorative study that networks in the four investigated case regions increasingly rely on knowledge instead of material linkages and firm characteristics determine the position of organisations within the networks. The actual structure of networks and the choice, which firm-specific factors are important for network positions, vary across the regions and cannot be explained by general regional characteristics. Thus, more concrete research on single regions is still necessary.
Keywords: social network theory, regional innovation systems, new economic geography, integrative technologies