Inderscience Publishers

Over the hedge: hidden networks in knowledge transfer

This paper develops the Edinburgh knowledge hedge (Bent et al., 2010) to introduce the largely hidden role formal and informal networks in the process of linking SMEs and business support agencies, presenting a model to assist in identifying remaining barriers to knowledge exchange. The model is applied to a detailed case study of primary business support experience, laying the foundation for practical and theoretical developments. It is proposed that the model will provide a basis for future qualitative research in this area. A conceptual framework is developed to capture the complexity of knowledge exchange between SMEs and business support agencies and providers. Within the case study SME owners and business advisors identify areas not resolved by formal/informal networks, aiding the development of case specific strategies to get both parties 'over the hedge'.

Keywords: knowledge transfer, business support, Edinburgh knowledge hedge, knowledge exchange, small business, informal networks, formal networks, Scotland, SMEs, small and medium–sized enterprises, qualitative research

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