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Informal Networks: Concepts, Constructs, Emerging Theories

Sven Horak (St John's University, USA)

Informal Networks in International Business

ISBN: 978-1-83982-879-9, eISBN: 978-1-83982-878-2

Publication date: 5 August 2022


The rise of emerging markets such as China, Brazil, Russia, and the Middle East has led to an increase in interest in understanding the nature and working mechanisms of informal networks (guanxi, yongo, wasta, blat/svyazi, etc.), which are instrumental in international business (IB) activities in these markets. Unlike Chinese informal networks, which have been researched extensively, studies on several other important informal networks remain sporadic and peripheral. From a theoretical point of view, it can be argued that the typical characteristics and behavioral ideals implied by social network theory do not fully reflect the networking ideals and practices in many non-Western countries. At the same time, international business practitioners may not have a thorough understanding of how to engage effectively in informal networking abroad or of how local managers actually network. Motivated by the wish to close this knowledge gap and work toward an inclusive and integrative theory of informal networks in international business studies, this paper suggests treating informal networks as an important type of social capital and informal institution of the respective business environment at the same time. As such, researching informal networks can be regarded a distinct research area positioned at the intersection of social capital, social network and (informal) institution theory. Finally, emerging theories are presented that indicate a path for developing informal network theory further in international business studies.



Horak, S. (2022), "Informal Networks: Concepts, Constructs, Emerging Theories", Horak, S. (Ed.) Informal Networks in International Business, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 3-22.



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