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Entrepreneurs’ network evolution – the relevance of cognitive social capital

Sara Jonsson (Centre for Banking and Finance, School of Architecture and the Build Environment, The Royal Institute of Technology –KTH, Stockholm, Sweden)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 13 April 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate entrepreneurs’ network evolution in the start-up phase.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on the case studies of six fashion start-up firms, this study uses a three-dimensional perspective on social capital (structural, relational, cognitive) to investigate entrepreneurs’ network evolution (i.e. initiation of new relationships) in the start-up phase so as to acquire resources and support for firms’ goals. The study focuses particularly on the understudied cognitive dimension of social capital. The fashion industry provides a relevant research setting because it is characterised by changes in demand, which generate opportunities for entrepreneurship.

Findings

The findings show that the display of cognitive attributes is important for the creation of structural social capital (the establishment of new relationships). The findings also indicate that relationships initiated based on the cognitive dimension have a high probability of developing into embedded relationships, thereby becoming high in the relational dimension and providing access to private information containing referrals to other actors. Thus, these relationships also promote the continued development of the structural dimension.

Originality/value

The findings imply that the entrepreneurs’ sets of cognitive attributes constitute an important asset in the creation of social capital. They also point to the importance of signalling these values to potential resource holders. Relationships initiated through the display of cognitive attributes can provide resources without requiring immediate economic remuneration.

Keywords

Citation

Jonsson, S. (2015), "Entrepreneurs’ network evolution – the relevance of cognitive social capital", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 197-223. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEBR-09-2013-0147

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited