Abstract

Networks are important because they hold “social capital” effecting firm performance by providing access to e.g. information, financial capital, innovation, legitimacy and competences. Networking also provides access to entrepreneurial opportunities, which are exploited by being innovative, risk-taking and proactive (Wincent & Westerberg, 2005). Therefore, to identify and investigate under which type of network relationships new ventures and small firms can achieve higher levels of EO and performance is an important research agenda (Lee et al., 2001). Apart from depth (number of relationships) and breadth (variety of relationships) (Laursen & Slater, 206), we acknowledge three subcategories of essential network relationships; upstream, horizontal and downstream relationships (Baum et al., 2000). These network relationships provide valuable recourses and information emphasizing different entrepreneurial opportunities, which otherwise might be difficult for new and small firms to accomplish due to their lack of resources and capabilities (Madsen, 2007). We propose that a firm’s EO and performance would be affected by different types of network relationships (Rothaermel & Deeds, 2006), which can be especially true for new ventures and small firms as they tend to exhibit “liability of newness” and “liability of smallness”.

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