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Toward a social capital theory of technology‐based new ventures as complex adaptive systems

Mary Han (Ted Rogers School of Business Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada)
Bill McKelvey (UCLA Anderson School of Management, Los Angeles, California, USA)

International Journal of Accounting & Information Management

ISSN: 1834-7649

Article publication date: 27 June 2008




Technology‐based new ventures (TNVs) – which rely on entrepreneurial activities based on science and technology applications in newly created organizations to be successful – are important to current economic growth and innovation. Past research has looked at the importance of networks and social capital to TNV performance. Yet these studies rarely provide theoretical predictions of the attributes of network ties. This paper aims to bring TNV theory up to date with respect to twenty‐first century adaptation and complexity conditions.


The paper draws on new developments in complexity science (specifically scalability and scale‐free theories) and long‐standing first principles of efficacious adaptation to develop TNV‐relevant theory offering an alternative perspective on the impact of network ties on the performance of TNV.


It is argued that TNVs can achieve superior performance by developing and building moderate numbers of short‐term (and thereby weak) network ties. The theorizing calls for a new research agenda pertaining to TNVs, which are delineated. The paper also develops four propositions as part of setting forth an agenda for future research.


The paper updates the entrepreneurship and social network literatures by reshaping them with respect to the nonlinear order‐creation dynamics of complexity theory and scale‐free dynamics of econophysics. It focuses on the aspects of network theory that are especially likely to set in motion the complex adaptive systems dynamics essential to TNV performance. Therefore, the conceptual framework contributes to TNVs as a guide to achieving higher performance, effectiveness, and longevity in a rapidly changing world.



Han, M. and McKelvey, B. (2008), "Toward a social capital theory of technology‐based new ventures as complex adaptive systems", International Journal of Accounting & Information Management, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 36-61.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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