Title: The emerging wave of agility-oriented business networks in Italy: a new strategy for facing global competition

Authors: Silvia Cantele; Silvia Vernizzi; Francesca Ricciardi

Addresses: Department of Business Administration, University of Verona, Via dell'Artigliere, 19, 37129 Verona, Italy ' Department of Business Administration, University of Verona, Via dell'Artigliere, 19, 37129 Verona, Italy ' Department of Business Administration, University of Verona, Via dell'Artigliere, 19, 37129 Verona, Italy

Abstract: In this paper, we present a novel manner of inter-firm networking that is emerging in Italy, based on the contratto di rete (business-network contract). This is a recently established form of business-network agreement, which allows flexible but institutionally founded inter-firm collaboration. Through a comparative study, we investigate three successful cases of these new-generation business networks; the analysis outlines under what conditions the network contract can be leveraged to improve the ability of the participating firms to face the new global competitive environment. Some common interesting success factors are identified in the three cases under study, such as: the shared belief that a new way of doing business is needed; the reciprocal trust between firms; the commitment and personality of the entrepreneurs involved; the balance of cooperation and competition in intra-network relationships; and the co-evolving perception of network success. The partnering firms under study are using these networks to become capable of playing new roles and to re-define their identity in the business environment. We propose the label 'agility-oriented' for this type of network and argue that very interesting questions for further research are raised by this emerging phenomenon.

Keywords: business networks; inter-firm networks; inter-organisational relationships; network contracts; contratti di rete; agility; Italy; inter-firm collaboration; agile management; shared belief; reciprocal trust; commitment; cooperation; competition.

DOI: 10.1504/WREMSD.2016.074967

World Review of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development, 2016 Vol.12 No.2/3, pp.270 - 284

Available online: 26 Feb 2016 *

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