Dressed for success : designing and managing regional strategic networks

Sammanfattning: Inter-organizational network initiatives such as regional strategic networks (RSNs) are often used by firms and public agencies to support regional development and competitiveness. RSNs are designed networks managed by a hub and financed by public or private means. RSN management is complex as members are autonomous and initially often loosely connected. The effects of RSNs on regional development are disputed as engineered relationship development may interfere with ongoing business relationships.  Despite this, vast public funds are being invested in collaborative initiatives. Identifying factors affecting RSN performance will provide a better basis for evaluating and managing such initiatives.Based on concepts such as actors, resources, and activities findings are reported from longitudinal case-studies built on interviews with 68 members and hubs in four RSNs. Data were also collected through participant observation, conversations, archival data and emails. Findings indicate that factors such as evaluation criteria, member composition, relationships, location, goals, the hub, physical and human resources, knowledge sharing and development, resources, policies and norms, social activities, and communication exert an impact on entrepreneurship and cooperation.The first paper focuses on factors such as actor composition, actor goals, number of actors, and activities facilitating relationship development and commitment. The second paper identifies a framework of seven tasks to be performed by the hub. The effects on development of preferences and atmosphere are dealt with in the third paper. Effects of cooperation between public/private sector and universities are addressed in the fourth paper, and entrepreneurial processes in network contexts are analyzed in the fifth one.The important management role of the hub is emphasized as is carefully considered member composition. Relationships and commitment are found to be crucial. These factors are not covered by national and regional performance criteria. They merit a place of their own.