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Social capital through networks: the case of university spin-offs firms in different stages

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2010
<mark>Journal</mark>Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie
Issue number5
Volume101
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)509-520
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

University spin-off firms in their first, often critical, years face a shortage of basic resources needed for growth. A major way of gaining such resources is through knowledge derived from social networks. However, social networks may be quite different in nature such that the influence of these networks on growth of university spin-offs may vary, like according to tightness, strength, social heterogeneity and spatial proximity of network partners. In this paper, we first examine theoretical ideas on social capital and the role of social networks. This is followed by an empirical study of university spin-off firms to explore differences in social networks between two development stages and to estimate the influence of network characteristics on growth in these stages. Early stage spin-offs tend to employ networks dominated by tightness, strong relationships, more homogeneous partners and local partners, whereas networks of spin-offs in later stages tend to face clearly contrasting features. Furthermore, network characteristics tend to influence growth mainly in years following the early stage, with a positive influence of social capital in networks that are relatively open to new knowledge and information.