Indirect networks: an intangible resource for biotechnology innovation



In the context of the emergence of new modular organizational forms, especially in high-tech sectors such as the biotechnology sector, this article proposes that while a firm observes benefits from direct alliances, it also benefits from indirect linkages. First, a theoretical framework revolving around indirect ties is built on the basis of social network and innovation management literature. It ends with the proposition of two research hypotheses linking the indirect network position of a firm to its innovation capacities. To test those hypotheses, data on strategic partnerships and collaborations were collected through 40 interviews with biotech firms from the nutrition sector in the biotech clusters of Quebec (Canada). Using network analysis, centrality measures and hierarchical regressions, results of this study indicate that by occupying a central position in a network of indirect ties, a firm is more likely to access useful knowledge from its direct partners and increase innovation. We suggest, as a conclusion, that indirect network position could be considered as an intangible strategic resource for biotech firms.