Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to study how actors in a network for regional development perceive the network by addressing the questions of what characterizes a network for regional development and why the actors participate in such a network. Design/methodology/approach – The study focussed on using networking for regional development in Sweden, utilizing a qualitative method with a hermeneutic approach. Findings – Regional development requires the inclusion of a participatory multi‐actor process, involving a diversity of societal stakeholders. A network for regional development entails hierarchy, and may be characterized by dominance. The informal character of networks for regional development creates vagueness, and might lead to unclear results, in the end affecting the function of the network. Leadership is crucial for the outcome of networks for regional development, but leadership is challenging in the absence of formal decision making and a controlling structure. Research limitations/implications – As this was an intra‐case study, generalization of the findings and conducting a cross‐case analysis were not feasible. Practical implications – The attributes of a network for regional development, i.e. hierarchy and dominance, constitute problems that need to be solved. The informal character of a network may create vagueness, making it difficult to produce tangible results. Hence it is vital to discuss results from different angles. An effective network requires a process leader who promotes trust and mutuality, and pushes the network in the desired direction. Originality/value – The present paper integrated research on network for regional development with general network theory, offering a better understanding of a topic in which research is relatively limited.
EuroMed Journal of Business – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 1, 2014
Keywords: Networking; Network; Regional development; Network picture; Network‐based strategy