PR - Investigation Of Bottlenecks And Success Factors For Networking As A Tool For Innovation In The Ornamental Plant Sector
Networking and innovation are important sources for entrepreneurs to achieve competitive advantage. This paper aims to investigate bottlenecks and success factors for networking of ornamental plant growers. To reach this objective, following research questions are formulated: (1) What kind of innovations are applied?, (2) What kind of networks are used?, (3) What role does networking play in the contribution to the development and implementation of innovations?, (4) What are the main bottlenecks and success factors for networking as a tool for innovation?
The research data are collected by means of in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with ornamental plant growers and network coordinators. The results show that ornamental plant growers have many possibilities in the domain of product, process, market and organizational innovation at their disposal, which are often underutilized. With regard to networking, a high diversity in the intensity of network activity and in the appeal to different network types are determined. Network types include horizontal and vertical networks as well as collaboration with third parties. Actually a link between network activity and innovation is observed, under condition that networking occurs in an effective and efficient way. Important bottlenecks for networking as a tool for innovation are a lack of human and financial resources, a strong competition and conflicts of interest between the network partners, leading to individualism and distrust, a high threshold between growers and research and governmental institutes and a low perceived added value or organized network activities. Some critical success factors for networking are lowering the threshold and enhancing trust and transparency among network members. Growers should take advantage of the underutilized innovation possibilities through enhanced networking. This would increase the farmers’ insights into changing markets and consumer needs and the necessary and relevant partners and information as trigger for innovation. This study delivers valuable insights and implications for growers as well as network coordinators. An important recommendation is that growers as well as network coordinators should apply strategies to connect with each other in the most effective and efficient way.
Keywords: innovation, network activity, ornamental plant production, qualitative research, Flanders