Member-care leadership in regional innovation networks : caring for single members – a hidden process?
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionTrengereid, V., Eide, D. & Høegh-Guldberg, O. (2022). Membercare leadership in regional innovation networks: caring for single members – a hidden process? Journal of Small Business & Entrepreneurship. doi: 10.1080/08276331.2022.2111163
Although MSMEs are expected to benefit the most from participating in collaborative innovation, they often struggle to gain these benefits. This study contributes knowledge about how to reduce the barriers. Three regional innovation networks were studied primarily through semi-structured interviews. They were formal networks, and the tourism sector was the main industry. Data analysis followed the grounded theory. A hidden but essential practice of network orchestration is constructed, i.e. ‘member-care leadership.’ Involving the subpractices of empathizing, engaging, and supervising single members’ to increase value from participating in the network. In particular, member-care leadership enables MSMEs to prioritize and carry out network activities and innovation at and between network gatherings. The care subpractices are interdependent, dynamic, and relational. The practice triggered learning and innovation within the enterprises and increased the enterprises ‘of-gathering activity’, knowledge sharing, and performance at the network level. This suggests that innovation network literature should take a humanistic and relational approach to orchestration. The study also provides an understanding of how network-driven innovation involves multileveled and dynamic processes, with orchestration and activity at the enterprise and network levels and between these levels. A policy implication is that member-care leadership should be acknowledged and allocated human and economic resources.