Network evolution and the spatiotemporal dynamics of knowledge sourcing

Robert Huggins*, Hiro Izushi, Daniel Prokop, Piers Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-499
Number of pages26
JournalEntrepreneurship and Regional Development
Issue number7-8
Early online date5 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Entrepreneurship and Regional Development on 5/10/15, available online:


  • network evolution
  • knowledge sourcing
  • innovation
  • spatiotemporal
  • regions
  • entrepreneurship


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