Informal inter-organisational networks provide manifold opportunities to organise the transfer of information, knowledge and technology between actors. The importance of informal networks as channel of knowledge transfer is widely acknowledged by academics and practitioners. However, there is a significant lack of discussion on their theoretical foundations and systematic empirical research on the origins, dynamics and effects of informal networking. The objective of this paper is threefold. First, we review the fragmented academic discussion of the notion of informal networking, thereby focusing on how these relationships emerge initially and what conditions (presumably) are required to make them a mutually fruitful and sustainable channel of the transfer of information and knowledge. Second, we give an up-to-date overview over most important and recent studies trying to disentangle the mechanisms of inter-organisational informal networking. Finally, we outline an agenda of future research directions that we encourage researchers to pursue in future empirical studies. Overall, six important research gaps are identified.
International Journal of Knowledge-Based Development – Inderscience Publishers
Published: Jan 1, 2011