Networking is an important managerial skill and small businesses and businesses that are operated in informal settings, such as those of the festival entrepreneur, need to concentrate on building strong relationships with the role players in their networks in order to survive, thrive and to enhance their competitiveness. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the current level of networking skills and to determine the perceptions of entrepreneurs of their current networking relationships. The tourism industry, which is regarded as a people's industry, needs high levels of networking skills to meet customer needs and expectations. Networking can therefore be seen as a key success factor. The Grahamstown National Arts festival is South Africa's oldest arts festival and was chosen, first because of the economic impact it has and, second, tourism and entrepreneurship are considered as key developmental issues in South Africa.
A quantitative study (structured questionnaire) was used to achieve the goal of the study and 137 festival entrepreneurs participated. A factor analysis was conducted with an Oblimin rotation to determine the factors that correlate most strongly with each other.
The main findings indicated that becoming a festival entrepreneur is a career choice and, second, that relationships and trust are important aspects of networking behaviour.
It is very important to investigate entrepreneurial behaviour in terms of networking practices at festivals. This research might help festival organisers to better understand and support the entrepreneurs conducting their business at these festivals and the organisers can offer services to support these networking efforts by offering courses, networking opportunities and engagement on higher levels of festival management. This research might also assist in the development of tourism curriculums which focus on event tourism.
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