Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Knowledge Networks

Knowledge Generating Networks: A Challenge to Intellectual Entrepreneurs

Karol I. Pelc

Chapter in: S. Kwiatkowski and P. Houdayer (eds.) "Intellectual Entrepreneurship: Through or Against Institutions," Warsaw, PL, L. K. Academy of Entrepreneurship and Management, 2004, p. 99-112.


Knowledge generating networks (KGN), supported by modern information technology, became a new and promising form of collaboration in both basic/exploratory research and in technological R&D. They create new opportunities and represent a challenge to intellectual entrepreneurs. This paper addresses four issues: (1)What are the functions of knowledge generating networks in different phases of R&D activity? (2) What are the properties of knowledge generating networks? (3) What is the role of intellectual entrepreneur and his/her contribution to the success of a KGN? (4) What relationship exists between configuration of a KGN and the need for intellectual entrepreneurship? Review of KGN’s functions indicates that this form of collaborative activity creates favorable conditions for R&D process by improving the flow of knowledge and stimulating creativity of collaborating actors. Importance of KGN in each phase of that process has been assessed in terms of improvement the KGN may offer. Special properties of KGN have been listed, illustrated with examples, and discussed in the context of potential role an intellectual entrepreneur may play in their development and nurturing. This analysis suggests that intellectual entrepreneurs always contribute to success of knowledge generating network which they are actively involved in. However the importance and character of those contributions depend on both the nature of research activity the KGN is oriented at and on the institutional context in which the KGN operates. The entrepreneurial component of knowledge networking is most important in the case of freely configured collaborative system of KGN, which involves actors/researchers on voluntary basis and across institutional boundaries. The same observation applies to business ventures in the form of knowledge/innovation networks, in which small-size R&D firms participate as actors. The conclusion is derived that even though institutions may constitute useful framework for some types of knowledge generating networks, the highest creativity, efficiency and benefits may be expected of those networks, which involve most actively the intellectual entrepreneurs and operate across institutional boundaries or independently of them.