Dynamics in cooperation

In today's society, the combination of knowledge is critical to the survival and growth of SMEs. Cooperation is therefore a valuable source of innovation: knowledge is combined to benefit from new sources for a competitive advantage. Innovation can focus on developing new knowledge (in the form of products, services or processes) or on more effective or more efficient use (optimizing products, services or processes).

A partnership is a relationship. A relationship that harbours potential benefits but which also carries risks. To maximize success and to eliminate risks as much as possible, the cooperation relationship should be managed properly. Formalities such as contracts, procedures and monitoring systems are used for this purpose but trust and shared standards and values also turn out to play an increasingly important role. These formal and informal regulatory mechanisms have an effect on cooperation. And, the implementation of such cooperation is then either conducive or not to the intended innovation with all the consequences for regulation and the relationship. The questions that this process calls up are:

  • How is the relationship shaped by the dynamics between regulatory mechanisms and organizational actors?
  • Which kinds of cooperative arrangements generate innovation?
  • How is the cooperation process shaped over time?

The research reviews cooperative relations focused on innovation from a relational, process oriented perspective.