Catering to Cleantech’s Resource Needs: The Strategic Importance of Board Networks in an Emerging Green Industry

Eelke M. Heemskerk, Ulrich Mans


This paper explores the role of elite networks in shaping business strategies in the cleantech industry. In order to do so, we investigate whether and if so how boards of directors cater to the resource needs of the innovative and expanding cleantech industry. We create a new dataset of the board network of leading cleantech firms that allows us to show how cleantech directors are integrated into the worlds of government, banking, and research. The strategic merits of board networks considered are 1/ the need for operational resources 2/ the need for conducive policies; and 3/ the need for market access. We find that Finance and Innovation are most sought after, and domestic networks remain dominant. While larger firms are well embedded in big business and finance, smaller corporations seek ties with innovation and policy networks. Cleantech firms currently show no significant capacity to reduce dependencies in terms of access to future cleantech markets. The findings suggest that the ‘classic’ resource needs, such as finance, are much better ‘covered’ through the board’s network structures than those resources that would enable a firm to improve its long-standing needs, such as a favourable policy environment and access to future markets.


Cleantech; social network analysis; resource dependency theory; board of directors; corporate elite

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RIMCIS - International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences | ISSN: 2014-3680

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