Knowledge accessing from external organisations is important to firms, especially entrepreneurial ones which often cannot generate internally all the knowledge necessary for innovation. There is, however, a lack of evidence concerning the association between the evolution of firms and the evolution of their networks. The aim of this paper is to begin to fill this gap by undertaking an exploratory analysis of the relationship between the vintage of firms and their knowledge sourcing networks. Drawing on an analysis of firms in the UK, the paper finds some evidence of a U-shaped relationship existing between firm age and the frequency of accessing knowledge from certain sources. Emerging entrepreneurial firms tend to be highly active with regard to accessing knowledge for a range of sources and geographic locations, with the rate of networking dropping somewhat during the period of peak firm growth. For instance, it is found that firms tend to less frequently access knowledge sources such as universities and research institutes in their own region during a stage of peak turnover growth. Overall, the results suggest a complex relationship between the lifecycle of the firm and its networking patterns. It is concluded that policymakers need to become more aware that network formation and utilisation by firms is likely to vary dependent upon their lifecycle position.
Bibliographical noteThis is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Entrepreneurship and Regional Development on 5/10/15, available online: http://wwww.tandfonline.com/10.1080/08985626.2015.1070538
- network evolution
- knowledge sourcing