Unveiling Hidden Aspects of Intermediary Organizations in Innovation: A Systematic Review through the Lens of Industry Taxonomy

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Prof., Department of Industrial Management, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Science, University of Mazandaran, Babolsar, Iran.

2 Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Science and Technology Policy, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Science, University of Mazandaran, Babolsar, Iran.



In the innovation system, actors are involved in a complex situation of formal and informal networks, both within and among subgroups. The unsteady interactions between the actors make the role of intermediaries important. Intermediary organizations in the innovation system try to assume functions based on the deficiencies in the interactions. The functions of intermediary institutions have been examined from various aspects in various articles and studies. The diversity stems from communication gaps and inherent shortcomings among the interacting parties within the innovation system. Although studies provide a list of these functions, how to guide these intermediate actors of the innovation system and determine their appropriate functions in a reflection of the characteristics of the industry is still questioned by innovation policymakers. Especially, the nature of innovation and the technological regime of the industries have substantial differences. The current research aimed to provide a comprehensive definition of the current knowledge and the classification of intermediary institutions in industries by Poit (1984) based on the definitional functions of Howells (2006) and also to create an interpretation of the existing research gaps.
In this study, using the Systematic Literature Review (SLR) method, all related qualitative and quantitative studies, including articles published in journals and conferences until 2022, were examined, and finally 77 articles were found and analyzed in the field of innovative intermediary institutions. To determine the scope of the study, despite determining and identifying the search keywords and the appropriate database, the quality of the journals that include the articles was evaluated. Since the scope of this study includes the relationship between the functions of mediating institutions and innovation; the two concepts of "intermediary institutions" and "innovation" were defined as the main keywords, and a wide range of synonym keywords were used to collect studies and do a comprehensive search. In the subsequent phase, criteria were established to ensure the validity and quality of the articles and to mitigate the inclusion of irrelevant studies. These criteria included: (1) studies pertaining to mediating and innovative institutions (organizations), (2) articles published exclusively in English, (3) articles featuring at least one of the selected keywords in the title, abstract, or keywords, and (4) articles published in esteemed journals indexed as Q1 and Q2.
The results of the analysis showed four main themes: (1) the functions of intermediary organizations in convergence with the macro trends of changes and new technological developments; (2) their functions at various levels of innovation systems, (3) mediating organizations as actors for managing knowledge-based industries, and (4) their functions in different industries are presented.
This study highlights the importance of understanding the nature of innovation and the technological regime of industries to define the appropriate functions of these organizations.


Main Subjects

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