Coordinators: Stefano Battiston
University of Zurich, Switzerland
Subject of research
Neither individual economic actors nor firms or other types of organizations act in isolation. Instead economic entities are typically interconnected in multiple ways. Research on cooperation and networks has been a central topic in social sciences for several years. The diversity of possible forms of networks is remarkable ranging from interpersonal networks (e.g. inventor networks) to intra-organizational networks (e.g. in knowledge transfer channels in transnational companies) and inter-organizational networks (e.g. sectorally and spatially defined innovation networks) up to international trade network (e.g. exchange of goods between nations).
Focus of this research area
Even though this research area is open to all kind of network-related issues, we focus on cooperation and network research based on diverse theoretical traditions, e.g. the neo-Schumpeterian tradition. Hence we address networks in which economic actors’ main rationale for cooperation is information/knowledge transfer, learning, and innovation. Our approach acknowledges the heterogeneity, bounded rationality, and strategic orientation of the actors involved. Knowledge and innovation-related cooperation activities can be formal as well as informal in nature. We are convinced that the structure and dynamics of networks are crucial for understanding and explaining the economic performance of the actors involved. Previous empirical research clearly indicates that an actor’s strategic network positioning is positively related with survival or firm innovativeness. Against this backdrop the lack of research on the formation and termination dynamics of individual cooperation events and on the structural evolution of the network as a whole is astonishing. Accordingly, one major objective of this research area is to contribute to an in-depth understanding of cooperation and network dynamics along multiple analytical levels.
The research in this area is not restricted to a specific analytical approach. We are open to a variety of methodologies such as:
- Qualitative and quantitative analytical methods,
- social network analysis methods,
- numerical and stochastic agent-based simulation methods,
- iterated and evolutionary game theoretical approaches,
- experimental methods.
We will organize a special session on “the dynamics of economic networks” at the annual EAEPE conference 2015. Beyond that, we seek to systematically increase the visibility and impact of our research area by launching a special issue in peer-reviewed journal by the end of 2015. Finally, we aim to establish an annual workshop will be held as far as possible alternately in Essen and Marburg. The focus of the first workshop in 2016 is on “methodological issues related to cooperation and network research”. The workshop is open to both PhD students and senior researchers.