CfP: Special issue on networks and entrepreneurship

International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal

Call for papers:

Special Issue on “The Role of Networks in Entrepreneurial Performance”

Papers may be of any type – empirical studies, conceptual papers, reviews, or research and teaching notes

Deadline for final submissions is Saturday, 1st Sept 2012. Papers will be published in 2013.

Networks have long been recognized as being important for SMEs, whether as sources of new product development (Lipparini & Sobrero, 1994) or as a means of accessing customers and distribution channels (Lee, Park, Yoon, & Park, 2010) for new products and services. Jack, Drakopoulou, Dodd & Anderson (2008) argue that networks are essential to the entrepreneurial process in that they ‘provide a framework for processes aiming at organizing resources according to opportunities’. Yet we still know little about how entrepreneurial firms discriminate between and use networks, and which aspects of a chosen network lead to superior (or alternatively poorer) performance.  SMEs and micro-sized firms cannot, normally, access all the resources they need in-house and because of their small size they often have to source these externally. These resources include both physical goods and intangible resources such as knowledge. There are skills and capabilities involved in both learning about these resources and obtaining them at an advantage, for example gaining privileged access to low prices or favourable distribution channels, or to knowledge that others cannot obtain (Ruzzier, Hisrich, & Antoncic, 2006).

We know that social capital is an important factor in the building and maintaining of helpful business relationships in some parts of the world (for example, guanxi in China, Wasta in Arab countries, or the network of businesses that supply Benetton in Italy or Inditex in Spain) (Li and Liu, 2010). Yet as Anderson & Jack (2002) suggest, “the nature, role and application of social capital in an entrepreneurial context have not been extensively explored”. Are these networks a source of growth for firms within them, or blockages to innovation? How do foreign entrepreneurs access such networks? Tightly-knit relationships can constrain innovation by restricting access to new knowledge but at the same time can enable it through constructing an efficient channel for new ideas to be processed. An important question is whether there are specific sectors in which the benefits of strong relationships outweigh any disadvantages; and vice versa. Furthermore, what are the etiquettes (Anderson & Jack, 2002) of social capital formation, particularly in global industries?

Successful network participants are likely to have specific attributes that enable them to form trusting (affective or cognitive) relationships (see, for example, Tong, 2006). These attributes are likely to differ around the world. They are also likely to vary according to the motives for forming a relationship, whether it is a risky relationship in which the outcomes are uncertain, as in the development of radical new products, or a joint venture where the alliances are unbalanced in terms of the bases of power held by the partners, or a relationship where the outcomes are more predictable (Smith and Lohrke, 2008). We also still know little about how entrepreneurial partners engage with networks whose participants have very different characteristics to their own.

There are other rather surprising gaps in knowledge. For example, little attention has been paid to the network development and networking activities of female and ethnic entrepreneurs, and even less to whether they participate in certain sectors, and to what effect, for example in agri-businesses or technology-based SMEs. Typically female entrepreneurs have different approaches to network participation compared with males (Baker, Aldrich, & Nina, 1997). We speculate that the role of females are likely to be different in different industries, and different geographical locations, and perhaps also in different roles (Klyver, 2011). This is important because recent research (for example, Hampton, Coope and McGowan, 2009) suggests that women are a significant yet untapped source of entrepreneurial potential. A better understanding of issues surrounding the activities of female entrepreneurs would also help identify ways in which others might be encouraged to engage in new venturing. Other personal attributes likely to be relevant in the forming of network relationships and which are currently not well understood, include class (Anderson and Miller, 2003), and educational level (Ibarra, 1993).

From this brief overview of the literature we can identify a number of potentially fruitful questions for investigation, including (but not limited to):

·         The role of absorptive capacity in SMEs’ ability to access and utilise externally-held resources

·         Global entrepreneurship in the smart digital age

·         Networks and family businesses

·         Capabilities, competences and tools that might be needed for small firms to use networks effectively

·         The role of social capital in entrepreneurial success

·          The process and effect/s of SMEs’ networks in the new product development process

·         The influence of network participation in design outcomes

·         Attributes of effective boundary-spanners

·         The extent to which government agencies may create effective entrepreneurial networks

·          Collaborative work and the role of networks in co-creation

·         Networking as opportunity brokering

Indicative references

Anderson, A., & Jack, S. (2002). The articulation of social capital in entrepreneurial networks: A glue or a lubricant? Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 14(3), 193-21

Anderson, A., & Miller, C. (2003). Class matters: Human and social capital in the entrepreneurial process. Journal of Socio-Economics, 32(1), 17-36.

Baker, T., Aldrich, H., & Nina, I. (1997). Invisible entrepreneurs: The neglect of women business owners by mass media and scholarly journals in the USA. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 9(3), 221-238.

Bradley S., Wiklund, J., & Shepherd D.  (2011). Swinging a double-edged sword: The effect of slack on entrepreneurial management and growth. Journal of Business Venturing, 26(5), 537-554

Smith, D., & Lohrke, F. (2008). Entrepreneurial network development: Trusting in the process, Journal of Business Research, 61(4), 315-322.

Hampton, A., Coope, S., & McGowan, P. (2009). Female entrepreneurial networks and networking activity in technology-based ventures: An exploratory study. International Small Business Journal, 27(2), 193-214.

Ibarra, H. (1993). Personal networks of women and minorities in management: A conceptual framework. The Academy of Management Review, 18(1), 56-87.

Klyver, K. (2011). Gender differences in entrepreneurial networks: Adding an alter perspective, Gender in Management: An International Journal, 26(5), 332-350.

Lee, S-J., Park, G-M., Yoon, B-Y., & Park, J-W. (2010). Open innovation in SMEs- An intermediated network model. Research Policy, 39(2), 290-300.

Lipparini, A., & Sobrero, M. (1994). The glue and the pieces: Entrepreneurship and innovation in small-firm networks, Journal of Business Venturing, 9(2), 125-140.

Jack, S., Drakopoulou, A., Dodd, S., & Anderson, A. (2008). Change and the development of entrepreneurial networks over time: A processual perspective. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 20(2), 125-15.

Ruzzier, M., Hisrich, R., & Antoncic, B. (2006). SME internationalization research: Past, present, and future. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 13(4), 476-497.

Tong, C-S. (2006). The opportunity recognition framework of Hong Kong SMEs. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, <;.

Special Issue Editors

Please send papers to any one of the following Co-Editors of this Special Issue:

Professor Jai Beom Kim  (

Dr. Wilson Ng (

Professor Alison Rieple (

Submission and informal enquiries

Please direct informal inquiries to Prof. Alison Rieple

Full papers should be submitted as e-mail attachments, preferably in MS Word, at the latest by 1st September 2012.  Papers should normally be between 5000 and 8000 words in length, excluding references and any Appendices and Figures.

Please ensure that you follow the IEMJ house style outlined at:

NB.  Papers should not be submitted through the Springer online system but sent direct to one of the Special Issue Editors.