50th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Sustainable Regional Growth and Development in the Creative Knowledge Economy", 19-23 August 2010, Jönköping, Sweden
A large part of the recent research and theoretical debate in economic geography underlines the central role of networks and relational perspectives. Although networks and their social dimension are recognised as central to the regional economic development, often the focus of research is in the economy transaction and supply-chain arguments. In particular, in the context of creativity and cultural industries, there has been a growing interest in the way the social and cultural dimensions are intertwined with the sites of exchange and consumptions but also the value of productions systems and supply-chains. From the economic geography framework, we moved on to social network analysis, as a new approach able to put together actors and institutions and to present all possible relationships and connecting structures, while focusing on the interconnection between public, private and not for profit sectors. The paper presents an empirical case study of the North-East region of England highlighting the importance of networks in the regional cultural economy. It draws on the data collected through social network analysis questionnaires and qualitative interviews to make the case for a better understanding of support, knowledge exchange and sociality. Social network analysis is used to show and highlight the role of the public sector and not for profit sector in the cultural economy but also the role of formal and informal network structure which supports the sector. Alongside, the SNA data qualitative interviews are used to better understand the issue surrounding the networks. The dynamics emerging from the social network analysis needs to be better understood and put into context. In particular, it addresses some of the dimensions emerging from the networks mapping: What is the role networks and what are they importance assets and impacts? In particular how relevant is the formal and informal dimension of them? Which role do networks play in terms of support and knowledge infrastructure? What is the role of the public sector in this networks and in this interaction? The conclusions drawn helps to better understand what role the interconnection between private, public and not for profit plays in the creative economy.