We are said to be entering a new, knowledge-based economy which differs from the “old” in the place,role and importance of knowledge. The bulk of economic activity is now based on the creation, use anddistribution of knowledge and information: advances in knowledge underlie increases in wealth andutility. Knowledge circulates with the individuals in which it is embedded (which is why attracting andretaining human capital and skills have become central issues) and through networks of individuals andfirms, displaying increasing returns in use and creation, to the benefit of all involved.The use of network research in the fields of economics, organization and strategy has exploded in recenttimes. An extensive body of knowledge is starting to exist on how network structures form and contributeto the creation of outcomes at different levels of analysis (individuals, groups, organizations andcorporations, regions and nations as a whole).The broad objective of this project is to study the board membership and ownership networks of thebanking and finance industry in the 3 Benelux countries: Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands, andto understand the link between the position and performance of banks in these networks. The project willuse a mix of empirical analysis and modeling approaches to identify ways to appraise and possiblyimplement desirable (“optimal”) network structures, so that the performance of a national financialsystem could ultimately be improved.The interlocking networks created by overlapping board memberships are potent media for the spread ofcorporate practices and structures (how acquisitive a firm, how its board responds to takeover threats,what stock market it lists on, how much risk it takes, etc.). Also the networks associated with ownershiprelations are a strong determinant of acquisition opportunities and thus of a firm’s diversification patternsand ultimately economic success. Understanding the characteristics of these networks and how a firm’sposition in them affects (and in turn is affected by) its performance are thus important issues.