Module Details

BE235-6-SP-CO: The Networked Economy

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Year: 2016/17
Department: Essex Business School
Essex credit: 15
ECTS credit: 7.5
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: No
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No

Supervisor: Prof Jay Mitra
Teaching Staff: Prof Jay Mitra
Contact details: Emma Aldridge, Undergraduate Administrator -

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

This module is designed to introduce students to key issues of business networks that exist both within and between firms in contemporary economic environments. Networks represent 'multidimensional, multilayered lattices of economic activity' that are comprised of economic (formal pure market transactions) and social (informal) types of interaction between firms and institutions, through which various forms and structures of relationships are built. The overall purpose of this module is to examine thoroughly the concept of networks and its significance for both businesses and the wider economy in which they operate.

The module aims to provide students with a critical understanding of the character, types, nature and development of business networks. It examines the geographic scope of networks, the types of relationships that are forged within networks, network boundaries and the special character of virtual networks. Students will obtain a thorough appreciation of the role and organisation of networks within the global economy, how businesses operate within these networks, and the significance of networks for business and economic development.

The objective is to help students develop relevant, practical and transferable skills through developing their understanding of key concepts and practices relating to the identification, development and evaluation of networks. The course has two parts: Part 1 examines networks from a firm/network-specific perspective in terms of issues such as inter-firm collaboration, network formation, networking technologies and types of networks. Part 2 investigates wider spatial, geographic and macro level issues concerning networks, exploring business clusters, networked economies and societies and the identity of networks. Theoretical, conceptual, and practical issues will permeate both parts.

Learning and Teaching Methods

The following learning and teaching methods will inform the pedagogic structure of the course:

- Lectures
- Discussion of case studies
- Discussion of journal articles
- Group work
- Signposting to additional resources

The lectures will be developed around the key concepts as mentioned in the indicative course content and will use a range of examples and cases from business practice to demonstrate the importance of network structures for entrepreneurship and innovative growth at the firm level.


50 per cent Coursework Mark, 50 per cent Exam Mark


Group Project - 25% Relfective Journal - 25%

Exam Duration and Period

2:00 during Summer Examination period.


  • Essential Reading
  • Ebers, M. (2001) 'The Formation of Inter-Organisational Netwerks' Oxford, Oxford University Press (Chs 1,2, 4, 7, 8 and 11)
  • Benkler, Y (2006) 'The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom', New Haven Yale University Press (Chs: Part 1, Chs 2-4, Part II, Ch. 10; Part III, Ch11)
  • Huxham, C and S. Vangen (2005) 'Managing to Collaborate: The theory and practice of collaborative advantage, Abingdon, Routledge (Part: Chs.1,2; Part II: Chs 6)
  • Recommended Reading
  • Hakansson,H; D I Ford, L-E Gadde and ISnehota (2009) 'Business in Network', London, John Wiley
  • Ryckman, P. (2013) 'Stiletto Network: Inside the Women's Power Circles That Are Changing the Face of Business', American Management Association
  • Carvill, M and d, Taylor (2013) The Business of Being Social: A Practical Guide to Harnessing the power of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & YouTube for all businesses, London Crimson Publishing Ltd. 
  • Amin, A. and P. Cohendet (2004) 'Architrectures of Knowledge, Firms Capabilities and Communities', Oxford, Oxford University Press: (Chs. 1, 3, 5)
  • Parrilli, M.D. Bianchi, P. and R. Sugden (2008) 'High Technology Productivity and Networks: A Systemic Approach to SME Development' Abingdon, Palgrave Macmillan, (Chs 1, 3, 6, 9)
  • McKeown, P. (2002) 'Information Technology and the Networked Economy
  • Noteboom, B (1999) 'Inter-Firm Alliances: Analysis and Design' London, Routledge
  • Barney, D. (2004) 'The Network Society', Cambridge, Polity Press (Chs 1-3)
  • Grandori, A. (1999) (ed) 'Interfirm Networks: Organisation and Industrial Competitiveness, London Routledge (Chs, 1, 4, 6 and 11)
  • Castells, M. (2000) 'The Rise of the Network Society', Blackwell Publishers Ltd, Oxford, UK (Chs 1-3)
  • Sassen, S ( 2002) Global Networks, Linked Cities
  • Breschi, S. and F. Malerba (2007) (eds) 'Clusters, Networks and Innovation', Oxford Oxford University Press (Part 1 Ch.2; Introduction)
  • Some classic refereed journal articles:
  • Nijkamp, P. (2003) 'Entrepreneurship in a modern network economy', Urban Studies, 4, 395-405.
  • Learner, E. E. & Storper, M. (2001) 'The economic geography of the internet age', Journal of International Business Studies, 32 (4), 641-667.
  • Storper, M. (1995) 'The resurgence of regional economies, ten years later: The region as a network of untraded interdependencies', European Urban and Regional Studies, 2 (3), 191-221.
  • Achrol R. and Kotler P. (1999) " Risk, diversification and growth' ,Journal of Political Economy 105(4), 709-52. `Marketing in the networked economy', Journal of Marketing 63 (Special Issue ... "
  • Granovetter,M.S. (1973) 'The Strength of Weak Ties', American Journal of Sociology, 78: 1360-89a
  • This reading list is recommended for you. From time to time other references will be used if appropriate. Supplementary material will be provided, if necessary.

Further information