Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Executive Doctorate in Business (EDB)



First Advisor

Dr. Mark Keil

Second Advisor

Dr. Lars Mathiassen

Third Advisor

Dr. A. Wayne Lord


Small businesses and small business networks have become increasingly important over the past two decades. However, limited empirical research has been carried out on the interactions of these small businesses, specifically within supportive networks. This research focuses on the interaction of firms and organizations within a successful small business innovation network, and how innovative business practices are developed. Innovation network theory was used as a lens to view the dynamics within an innovation network comprised entirely of small businesses and organizations. For this research, a qualitative case study was undertaken, with an emergent wine region in Southern California targeted as an ideal case in which to study a small business innovation network. This research showed that in this instance of a small business innovation network, a hub firm, as defined by innovation network theory does not exist to orchestrate and manage the interactions within the network. Thereby, an adapted model for small business innovation networks is proposed and the results from this qualitative case study are mapped using this adapted theory. The results show a constellation of firms and organizations at the core of the network composition, undertaking deliberate and emergent strategies that affect the outcome and success of all members of the small business innovation network. The research identified a significant sense of place embedded in the regional culture and the importance of effective regional planning in positively impacting the success of the small business innovation network.