Purpose - Given the increased importance of inter-organizational networks in fostering innovation, the purpose of this paper is to isolate drivers of the adoption of inter-organizational systems (IOS) that support innovation processes. Design/methodology/approach - Based on qualitative research incorporating a focus group and in-depth interviews, a network framework is provided for understanding key drivers concerning IOS adoption. Findings - The research uncovers factors for facilitating coordination and communication efficiencies and outlines the roles that trust and commitment can play in managing innovation within networks through IOS use. Research limitations/implications - To enhance our understanding of innovations that are entrenched in networks of heterogeneous actors, this research contributes by employing an interdisciplinary approach as it applies network and relationships marketing literatures to the IOS adoption in innovation settings. Originality/value - The paper advances theory development on innovation management and technology adoption by offering a network framework, a shift from extant literature's predominant focus on individual and organizational levels.