Date of Award
Master of Science
Peter F. Korsching
Entrepreneur networks have been recognized as an important factor in business success. Networks are embedded with valuable business resources, such as equipment, financial support, advice, and encouragement. This study examines the nature of business-related networking among small-town entrepreneur business owners. The purpose is to: 1) compare the perceived benefits of strong and weak tie networks, 2) compare the perceived benefits of different types of weak tie networks, and 3) locate factors that may affect entrepreneurs' weak tie network participation. The data come from a survey mailed to all 228 businesses in on small Iowa town. Entrepreneur business owners were asked about the resources and support they receive from three types of social networks: "strong ties" consisting of close friends and family; "informal weak ties" consisting of business contacts, employees, and coworkers; and "formal weak ties" consisting of the local chamber of commerce. The study finds support for Granovetter's strength of weak ties theory, showing that entrepreneurs perceive weak tie networks to be more beneficial than strong tie networks. However, it also finds that weak ties differ in their perceived benefits to entrepreneurs, based on the formality of the relationships. The study also outlines two models of network participation, - the economic perspective, which proposes that entrepreneurs strategically engage in networking, and the social-psychological perspective, which accounts for personality and contextual factors that shape network content. Personal differences among entrepreneurs, including social psychological, business, and community perception factors are examined to explain possible variations in the value that entrepreneurs receive from their weak ties.
Cheryl Michelle Davidson
Davidson, Cheryl Michelle, "Who you know: Small-town entrepreneurs' perceptions of the value of their social networks" (2010). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 11870.