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Change and the development of entrepreneurial networks over time: a processual perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2008
JournalEntrepreneurship and Regional Development
Journal number2
Volume20
Number of pages35
Pages125-159
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Although it is now well established that networks contribute to entrepreneurship by extending the individual entrepreneurial asset base of human, social, market, financial and technical capacity, little work, empirical or theoretical, has examined the dynamics of networking processes in a temporal framework. Drawing on evidence from three longitudinal case studies of entrepreneurs operating in the oil industry in the North East of Scotland, this paper presents an extensive empirical investigation into network transformation over time. We are thus able to chart networks in their historical contingency. This chronological lens allows us to view patterns in network continuity and change and enables us to develop a rich conceptual framework. The study demonstrates that networks are vital living organisms, changing, growing and developing over time. Yet set in their history, networks are much more than an extension of the entrepreneurial asset base. Our data shows how a reconceptualization of the nature of networking is called for; one which privileges an understanding of the relational dynamic as a structural configuration representing the social construction of the entrepreneurial environment. Thus our conceptualization proposes that networks actually create the environment, as it is understood and operated by the entrepreneur, and that consequently the networking process is the enactment of the environment.