Silvia Lucciarini Marina Mastropierro

The Value of Organizational Experimentations: How Associating Becomes Innovating. Ideas from an Analysis of Inter-Organizational Networks in an Internal Area of the South Italy

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Some studies have begun to suggest, from the middle of the first decade of the 2000s, to enrich the debate on the triangle «business, innovation and policy» by putting experimentalism at the centre of both policies and policy instruments. In a 2014 volume, the OECD and the World Bank argued that to understand and (re)consider innovation policies, it is necessary to «learning from experimentation». This article is at the crossroads between a reflection on regulatory mechanisms and organizational form, analyzing the innovation strategies implemented within two production chains (organic agri-food and aerospace), in a local milieu of an inner area economically depressed which includes the provinces of Benevento and Avellino, through the instrument of the so-called «contratti di rete», network contracts. Experimentalism is analyzed in two «fields»: i) «associative» regulatory mechanisms as tools for local development, taking as a reference the model of associational economy theorized by economic geographers Morgan and Cooke; and ii) inter-organizational relationships, motivated and «ignited» by the need of companies to recover resources, otherwise unavailable individually, using the organizational frame of the resource-based view (Barney, 1991). The analysis shows how this experimentation, albeit with different limit, is able to overcome some barriers to business development, and the mismatch that exists between the main forms of public support for business (i.e. tax exemption) and the needs of companies. Joining a network contract allows companies to access to European funds, pushing all the firms involved toward a logic shifting, from short-term to a medium and long term approach. This may promote process and product innovation – as we can see in the agri-food sector – or leads to participate in other qualified international networks, broadening market opportunities and increasing economies of scale at the local level and at the same time sharing the risks related to this new market within this network, as it is shown in the aerospace sector


  • Experimentalism
  • Inter-Organization Associationism
  • Local Development


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