Inderscience Publishers

Sustainable innovation networks: an empirical study on interorganisational networks in industrial ecology

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This paper focuses on interorganisational cooperation and innovation processes in the context of industrial ecology. The authors attempt to connect industrial ecology research to social sciences, in particular, to organisational and management research. Critical Success Conditions (CSCs) for the network structure of innovation processes in interorganisational, multi-actor networks are identified. These 'sustainable innovation networks' are local, transient cooperations among a small, but diverse set of agents from a wide range of organisations, bringing forward a sociotechnical breakthrough innovation. A literature review reveals that the corresponding theoretical aspects of social network analysis and evolutionary economics are rarely mentioned in peer-reviewed industrial ecology literature. Accordingly, three specific CSCs are proposed, namely, (1) network diversity, (2) network density and (3) use of knowledge integration methods, to be included in industrial ecosystem analysis. Testing performed in five case studies shows that all three CSCs show some correlation to the performance of the cases.

Keywords: transdisciplinary planning, transdisciplinarity, sustainability learning, network analysis, stakeholder analysis, strategic sustainable development, innovation networks, industrial ecology

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