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Entrepreneurial networking in different national contexts

Developing local entrepreneurship is considered a powerful means for economic development. Today, adages such as ‘it is not what you know, but who you know’ and claims that the contemporary entrepreneur needs to ‘become increasingly a creative network operator and manager’ (Nijkamp, 2003, p. 395) are unchallenged and taken for granted in Western entrepreneurship and new venture formation. The Western myopia, however, impregnating entrepreneurial network research has led to a dominating assumption that networking practices are generic rather than locally bounded activities and that networks are structured in a homogenous way globally. In this research project, we argue that it is largely unclear whether or not our conventional knowledge about the most effective structures and processes for establishing and maintaining entrepreneurial social networks can be applied directly to non-Western cultures.

Thus, the aim is to attend to the dearth of research that address cultural differences in the meanings, structures and practices of entrepreneurial networks and tap into what the cultural relational patterns are that cause these differences. More specifically, drawing on qualitative and quantitative data from Israel, Chile, Uganda, India, Sweden and the US, the project aims to address the following research questions:

  • What are the entrepreneurial networking practices in different national cultures, whether and how do they differ, and what are the cultural mechanisms that create these differences?
  • What is the meaning that entrepreneurs place on their specific social networks in different cultures? For example, how do they make sense of weak versus strong ties, or long-term versus short-term relationships?
  • What does the structure of an entrepreneur’s network look like across national sites?


Project team members

Sara Värlander, Associate Professor, Stockholm University School of Business. Affiliated Researcher CASL


Ingela Sölvell, PhD, Center for Advanced Studies in Leadership, Stockholm School of Economics,


Kim Klyver, Professor, Institut for Entreprenörskap och Relationsledelse, Syddansk Universitet.


Financed by Marianne and Marcus Wallenbergs foundation 2015-2018

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