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Networks for the commercialization of innovations: A review of how divergent network actors contribute

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-381
Number of pages17
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Successful commercialization is of great importance to innovative firms, and the recent literature has increasingly acknowledged that networks make a contribution not only to research and development but also to commercialization. However, research on networks facilitating the commercialization of innovations is scattered across divergent disciplines. A single company is rarely capable of generating successful diffusion in the commercialization of an innovation; success often requires cooperation between individual actors and organizations, and support from stakeholders. Consequently, the network aspect of commercialization is crucial. The aim of this study is thus to integrate the knowledge on how current research and business has employed the network approach in commercialization, and how contributors external to the innovator firm can facilitate the commercialization of innovations. On the basis of an extensive metatheoretical literature review and a qualitative and quantitative content analysis on articles linking networks explicitly to commercialization, this study produces a conceptual synthesis on network actors' contribution potential to commercialization. The analysis identified divergent network approaches to commercialization and gathered extant knowledge on "commercialization networks" from the multidisciplinary literature of innovation management, marketing, management, technology, entrepreneurship, and other relevant disciplines. Networks for commercialization have been linked to divergent network approaches, such as industrial networks, social networks, strategic networks, and entrepreneurship networks. According to the findings, customers and users, distributors, complementaries, suppliers, investors, associations, public organizations, and policy makers and regulators can support commercialization by performing practical commercialization tasks, facilitating innovation adoption/diffusion and creating markets. We also identified four modes of contribution. In terms of methods, qualitative research dominates current examinations on the topic while longitudinal research and investigations from multiple network actors' perspectives are almost absent. The results also indicate a need to develop coherent conceptualizations and accumulate knowledge that would strengthen the theoretical basis of the research. A pivotal contribution of this article is that it is the first to generate an integrative framework and a research agenda on networks for commercialization - a theme that is emergent, multifaceted, and crucial to innovative companies.

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Commercialization, Innovation adoption, Innovation diffusion, Networks, Relationships