Networked by design: Can policy requirements influence organisations’ networking behaviour?

Federica Rossi*, Annalisa Caloffi^, **Margherita Russo

* Birkbeck Univerity, London, United Kingdom,
^ Departmente of Economics and managemente, University of Padua, Italy,
* Dipartimento di Economia Marco Biagi, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy;

Technological Forecasting and Social Change 105 (April): 203–14.


An important but under-researched question for innovation policy is what kind of innovation networks should be supported, if the policy objective is not just to sponsor successful innovation projects, but also to encourage the participants to form networks with desirable characteristics. Focusing on a set of innovation policy programmes implemented by the regional government of Tuscany, in Italy, between 2002 and 2008, we investigate whether the imposition of requirements on the composition of innovation networks that would be eligible for funding – in particular, the demand that networks should comply with minimum size and heterogeneity thresholds – influenced the participants’ networking behaviour in the context of successive policy interventions. Our results show that the two requirements immediately affected the composition of the project networks that applied for funding, although not always in the intended direction. However, these effects did not extend to the successive periods, when those requirements were no longer in force. This suggests that the imposition of policy requirements, per se, is unlikely to induce persistent changes in organizations’ networking behaviour. Moreover, we suggest the need for evaluating behavioural effects of policies can bring some useful insights, and should become a more frequent component of policy evaluation.

Keywords: Innovation networks, innovation policy, policy requirements, networking behaviour, behavioural effects of policy