This paper aims to discuss the importance of organisational structures in a collaborative innovation network, namely the Genolyptus Project. This project is a research network formed by 12 enterprises, 7 universities and a government agency - the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation - EMBRAPA, whose goal is to discover, sequence, map and determine the functions of genes with economic interest of Eucalyptus. It is indeed an original initiative in a sector with attested competitiveness in Brazil, the forestry sector, especially because it encompasses competing firms around the same innovation effort. Its understanding becomes of crucial importance for policies and efforts that seek to promote technological capabilities in developing countries. The objective of this article is therefore to investigate this network, assessing the role of social capital and evaluating the set of routines, rules, guidelines and objectives that make it feasible and successful.
We first describe the Brazilian Agribusiness Innovation System, presenting the main features of its technological regime (Edquist 1997; Britto 1999). Then we examine the Genolyptus network based on three main concepts: knowledge sharing routines (Cohen and Levinthal, 1990; Lundvall, 1992), strategic objectives (Doz 1996) and social capital (Kale et al. 2000; Casas 2003). Through interviews with the main executives engaged in the project, we propose a preliminary model that wishes to elucidate the connections among the sectoral system of innovation, the network and the social capital. Transparency (as contracts and clear rules), trust, social context (prior alliances) and resource complementary seemed to be the determinants for the alliance formation and performance.