Abstract: One of the key performance indicators for the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre (DK-CRC) was ‘to enhance collaboration among researchers, [and] between researchers and industry or other users, and to improve efficiency in the use of intellectual and other resources’. The DK-CRC Board instigated this network analysis study to develop a longitudinal view of the DK-CRC’s impact in developing new networks, and enhancing those already in existence, across desert areas and between the coast and desert areas. In addition, the study was established to describe and explain the complex nature of the interaction between the various players within the structure of the DK-CRC (e.g. Management Team, Board, project leaders and users of the CRC’s research outputs). This first report provides the baseline analysis of the effectiveness of collaboration and communication activities among the DK-CRC stakeholders during the pre-approval and initial start-up phases. The research highlights how the roles played by individuals and groups (Board, Management Team, project leaders etc.) have changed through the period of study. The results show the rise of the Management Team in terms of its perceived relative influence during the establishment phase of the CRC. These perceptions are largely mirrored in the collaboration and communication networks that have been established where the Management Team has been particularly active. The Management Team plays a crucial role in building bridges between itself and the various research activities within the four DK-CRC themes. All in all, many collaborative activities have taken place, but with marked differences between the four research themes. Members of Theme III and IV appear to be the most active in reaching out to other research themes. It is also interesting to note that although the Northern Territory stakeholders dominate the reputation networks, regional representation in the various collaboration structures appears to be much more balanced. A clear delineation has been found between the Board members, who are shown not to play any significant role in collaborative research activities, and the Management Team, which is responsible for implementing research.