16 Mar Collaborative network
The main problem of small companies in a global market is to be recognized by potential customers and provide them the products at a competitive price. Their small size, in terms of design and production capacity, puts them in crisis (about 30% of small Italian enterprises have disappeared or have been greatly reduced, since 2007). Hence micro and small enterprises are forced to come together in a “enterprises network”, to conclude a “network contract” and to evaluate the advantages to be collaborative members of a network (Villa et al., 2017).
In a collaborative environment, the exchange of information is essential, and is a primary focus of the supporting tools used. To achieve a common and shared understanding amongst participants, they can rely on shared terminology–using a controlled vocabulary to communicate (Wulan et al., 2010). SMEs tend to collaborate and share knowledge when they have shared domains of interest, but possess different competencies (Hamburg et al., 2010; Zimmermann et al., 2005). Knowledge they aggregate over time is often tacit, not always clearly visible and well defined, and will not necessarily be shared (Hamburg et al., 2010; Horváth, 2012). Even if captured, experiential knowledge can become obsolete due to loss of relevance as time passes (Larsson et al, 2010). Knowledge intensive collaborations often rely on tools that expose patterns of collaboration, which can be identified manually or semi-automatically (Popplewell et al., 2008; Meyer et al., 2010). They contribute to the formalised representation of knowledge, by placing it in con-text which when added to a database, later facilitates classification, search and acquisition in a structured way (Meyer et al., 2010; Tay et al., 2003). If the collaboration develops over a series of successful engagements, shared experiences of problem solving are accumulated, positively influencing risk acceptance and willingness to commit to closer forms of collaboration. This leads to the preference towards working together to enhance value creation rather than behaving opportunistically in order to attain individual, short-term gain (Kim et al., 2011). Communication between the participants and a concept of social presence (the ability of participants to identify with the community), are facilities supporting the trust building, as is the post collaboration rating (Garrison, 2009; Swoboda et al., 2011). The management of complexity is one of the main challenges in solution-dependent engineering based collaborations. Complexity comes from the variety of different organisations in the field, the diversity of relationships between them and the decision making mechanisms employed, and can be dealt with using multiple views and modular architectures (Tounsi et al., 2012).
Organizational innovation requires strong social collaboration and knowledge networks as well as focused partner selection strategies that complement employee strengths (Han et al., 2019).
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