National Observatory of Inter-firm Networks

NOIS is the founding partner of the National Observatory of Inter-firm Networks, together with our partners Infocamere and Retimpresa.

The Observatory collects data on the evolution of Italian interfirm networks through an annual research project.

Observatory at a glance

The “Network contract”

The Network contract represents and innovative model of collaboration between firms. Introduced by the law 33/2009 in the Italian normative system, the contract norms informal cooperation between autonomous firms. The contract is signed by different entrepreneurs with the aim of increasing, individually and collectively, their competitiveness and innovation activity.
The contract allows the maximum flexibility in terms of managerial and organizational arrangements. However, the contract requires that networks have explicit goals and monitoring procedures, as well as a common program for partners’ activities. 

Aims and goals

The Observatory was founded in order to pursue the following aims and goals

  • Observing the phenomenon of inter-firm networks collecting novel information and primary data on its evolution and development
  • Developing research projects within the field of inter-organizational networks to advance our knowledge on this phenomenon, from an empirical and a theoretical perspectives
  • Supporting policy makers in defining incentives and support activities to Italian SMEs engaged in cooperative agreements, in order to sustain innovation and competitiveness of the national economic tissue
  • Informing managers and entrepreneurs in order to help them in defining their strategies, especially in the domain of inter-organizational relationships.

Our activities

  • We update and maintain an enriched database about the Italian Network Contracts, through the collection of primary and secondary data
  • We define a yearly research project aimed at increasing knowledge and information available about inter-organizational networks development, organization, and evolution
  • We develop online surveys to investigate in-depth critical issues regarding the phenomenon of inter-organizational networks
  • We organize events in order to share knowledge and information about the network contract and the Italian scenario 

Research projects

The Observatory represents a unique research opportunity for NOIS, given the depth and breadth of data available. On data collected through this project, NOIS is developing several lines of investigation, among which:

  • Network genesis and evolution
  • Network effectiveness and network performance
  • Network organization and coordination mechanisms
  • Networks as meta-organizations: accountability and performance measurements
  • Industry-specific studies on networks, such as networks and finance, marketing of networks, networks in the agri-food sector, networks for tourism destinations.


Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Department of Management