The role of networking in innovation in an emerging economy : the case of Russia

Bukhshtaber, Natalia (2018) The role of networking in innovation in an emerging economy : the case of Russia. (DBA thesis), Kingston University, .


This study aims to expand the existing knowledge of the role of networking in innovation. It focuses on Russia, a country with a transition economy. On the governmental level, the lack of understanding of the networking mechanisms that Russian start-ups use to support their innovation creates a barrier to effective decision making related to the development of the national innovation system. On the start-up level, this lack of understanding hampers the ability to select effective networking strategies aimed at ensuring that companies can achieve their aims in each stage of their development. In order to determine the scope of opportunities for companies to establish external relationships and to set the context for the interpretation of the primary data, the author conducts a detailed analysis of the evolution of Russia's national innovation system. The investigation is based on secondary data, including official government documents, articles, and publications in the scientific literature and newspapers. To gain a deeper understanding of the interrelationship between networking and innovation, the study investigates the networking behaviour of Russian SMEs, represented by a sample of 59 companies that launched business activities in Moscow between 2009 and 2017. To collect primary data, in-depth interviews were carried out with the founders of these companies. To conduct a comparative analysis of networking behaviour of companies with different degrees of innovativeness, entrepreneurial ventures in the sample are grouped into four innovativeness categories: very low, low, medium and high. The findings confirm the key proposition that innovative start-ups are more actively engaged in networking and have wider networks. In addition, the study shows that more innovative start-ups build and govern their networks of business contacts differently than less innovative start-ups. Finally, the author discusses implications for the development of theory and practice, reflects on the limitations of the research, and makes suggestions for future research on innovative networking that might build upon this study. A key contribution of this DBA thesis to practice emerged in the sphere of the author’s teaching and administrative activities at the Lomonosov Moscow State University Business School. The results of this study were utilised in the construction and implementation of an educational project (February-April 2018) in which students worked closely with technological start-ups to help them establish vital contacts in their business and market environments. Therefore, the knowledge obtained from this study was taught to students and applied in practice in the implementation of a systematic approach to the search for and expansion of contact networks conducive to innovation. As such, it helped students develop networking skills and assisted start-ups in successfully solving tasks related to the commercialisation of innovative products and services.

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