Entrepreneurial networks: a review, methodology and typology

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Technology entrepreneurship
New technology-based firms
Entrepreneurial networks
Network embeddedness
Structures, flows
Configuration theory

In this thesis I explain how research on entrepreneurial networks has been dominated by two approaches: one focussing on network structures (connections between actors) and one on network flows (exchange or transformation of resources within relationships). Using configuration theory, I then make the case for an integrated approach that considers the interdependence between network structures and network flows. To achieve this, I present three papers, the first of which has been published and the other two are being revised for publication in a journal. In the first paper I examine the affect of network embeddedness (i.e., the degree to which social structure and processes shape economic action) on the performance of new technology based firms and argue that operationalizations of network embeddedness would benefit from incorporating structural network measures as well as measures of the attributes of individual relationships. I then present a second paper in which I describe a model and method (Q-analysis) for conceptualising and measuring variations in the structure–flow interdependence of networks. Together, the model and method facilitate richer examinations of the form and function of entrepreneurial networks. In the third paper I develop a typology of four network configurations based on variations in network structural complexity and network flow complexity. I then describe how different network management capabilities are suited to each of the network configurations. Together these three papers provide contributions that will help researchers to study how structure-flow interdependence affects the configuration, multiplexity (i.e., how multiple flows interact within and across relationships) and evolution of entrepreneurial networks.

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Ian McCarthy
Elicia Maine
Business Administration: Faculty of Business Administration
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.