Entrepreneurial innovation in chains and networks in Dutch greenhouse horticulture

L. Pannekoek, O. van Kooten, R.G.M. Kemp, S.W.F. Omta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuses on the critical success factors in entrepreneurial innovation, and the role of cooperation with chain partners, knowledge institutions and colleague firms in the Dutch glasshouse industry. This industry, typified by a large number of family-owned entrepreneurial firms, is generally acknowledged as one of the world leaders in horticultural production and trade. Not only are the auctions of Aalsmeer and Naaldwijk among the most important horticultural auctions in the world, but the knowledge of cultivation techniques is also highly developed in the Netherlands. In order to maintain its leading position and to compete successfully with low-cost countries, Dutch horticulture is constantly reinventing itself. If we take a closer look, however, we see that only a limited number (3%) of the Dutch glasshouse companies actually take the lead in innovation. Using expert advice, we selected the 74 most successful innovative companies to be included in this study, of which 44 companies were willing to participate. In 2004, all the participating companies were visited. In total 139 innovations were analysed, using a combination of half-structured in-depth interviews with the glasshouse entrepreneurs and a structured questionnaire based on 10-point Likert scales. The entrepreneurs were asked to fill out the questionnaire for their most and least successful innovations. As expected, more successful (87) than failed innovations (52) were reported. Our results show that the characteristics demonstrated by the innovative entrepreneurs are essential for success in innovation. The innovative entrepreneur has a strategic vision of how to serve the market and create value. Also, team communication was extremely important. Successful entrepreneurs maintain an open atmosphere and show real commitment to the innovation process. They are in contact with a diverse network of business relations to develop innovations. Intensifying the network relations, e.g. by clustering glasshouse companies, leads to more successful innovation. The more firms in the horticultural production chain were actively involved in the innovation process, the bigger the chances of success. This was especially true for firms downstream toward the market.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-50
JournalJournal on Chain and Network Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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