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Innovation Systems: Networks and Social Capital


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Professor Helen Lawton Smith 
  • Assessment: a 2500-word coursework essay (40%) and a two-hour examination (60%)

Module description

The aim of this module is to provide you with a thorough understanding of how innovation is related to the management of social relations within the firm as well as inter-firm networks and also linked to educational systems, labour markets, financial markets and other aspects of the broader societal context.

Indicative module content

  • Innovation systems, theory and applications: new perceptions of innovation processes and interactive learning; systemic approach(es) to innovation; national, regional, local or globalised systems of innovation; application of the innovation system approach in empirical studies; innovation systems and ICT.
  • Social capital and networks, the firm as a nexus of social relations: the role of social relations in theories of the firm; social capital: theory and applications; corporate social capital: trust, norms and networks; social capital, human capital and other forms of capital; social capital in innovation processes; how to build social capital.
  • Inter-firm networks, clusters and innovation: markets, hierarchies and networks; the network society: theory and evidence; networks and learning; strategic alliances and other inter-firm networks; innovation in industrial clusters.
  • Implications for innovation policy: innovation policy and interactive learning in an innovation system; fostering of networks; business-university networks; social capital and innovation policy; lock-in and break-up.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to apply theories of innovation systems, networks and social capital theories as analytical frameworks for conceptualising innovation processes, innovation management and innovation policy.