The need to develop a greater understanding about the creation of social capital and how this might impact on entrepreneurship and the development of the small‐ to medium‐sized enterprise (SME) sector requires further research. This paper aims to consider to what extent engagement with higher education institutions (HEIs) by SMEs creates social capital and network benefits.
This paper follows the experiences of five SME owners who participated in the Lancaster University LEAD programme (a leadership programme for owner/managers who want to develop their leadership capabilities and grow their business) between 2004 and 2006. Qualitative techniques are used to consider networking activities, use and development of social capital and experiences. A framework for data collection and analysis was developed from the literature review.
Results show that the experience of engaging with the HEI sector was beneficial. Networks provided the opportunity to create social capital and had a positive impact on the development of the SME and the individual. A number of key elements supported this process namely trust in the individuals running the programme, the creation of a supportive environment where individuals were able to share experiences and social events.
This paper has implications for practitioners and the designers of SME engagement programmes at HEIs. For practitioners, this paper demonstrates that by engaging with the HEI sector, entrepreneurial networks can be extended. For designers, this paper demonstrates that the creation of trust and sociability are key aspects for the success of the experience of engaging. However, this must be coupled with content that is rich in reflection.
Gordon, I. and Jack, S. (2010), "HEI engagement with SMEs: developing social capital", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 16 No. 6, pp. 517-539. https://doi.org/10.1108/13552551011082489Download as .RIS
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