Informal collaboration in R&D. The formation of networks across organizations

Organizational Studies vol. 14/2, 1993



A barter economy is operated by the Danish biotech community. This barter economy is significant as an ’interactional infra-structure’ for the emergence and discovery of collaborative R&D venues. Norms of liberally sharing information on the frontier of research greatly enhance the efficiency of the network formation process. Our study documents the whole process of informally forming collaborative relations amongst companies and universities in biotech R&D. A model is which serves as an scheme for case developed interpretive studies. The patterns of collaboration depicted in this paper appear to be anarchistic and random, but we argue that these traits are somewhat ’domesticated’ by community norms. Furthermore, in spite of its strategic importance, networking appears to be totally out of managerial purview and control. However, w e suggest that these collaborative relations may in certain, often paradoxical, ways be channelled and conditioned by managerial fiat.

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Authors: Kristian Kreiner & Majken Schultz