Academic journal article International Journal of Entrepreneurship

An Exploratory Investigation into the Role and Importance of Networking Partners of South Asian Entrepreneurs in the Venture Creation Process

Academic journal article International Journal of Entrepreneurship

An Exploratory Investigation into the Role and Importance of Networking Partners of South Asian Entrepreneurs in the Venture Creation Process

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

In creating new ventures, few entrepreneurs are blessed with an initial abundance of resources. The entrepreneur is assumed to need resources, financial, physical, or social, for example, from others. Stevenson, Roberts and Grousbeck (1989) captured this concept well in describing entrepreneurship as the pursuit of opportunities without regard to the resources currently under control. A strong stream in the entrepreneurship literature elaborates that the prospective entrepreneur must tap into his/her network to acquire the missing resources as the venture creation process moves forward. Dubini and Aldrich (1991) noted that entrepreneurship is "essentially a networking function." Although the integral relationship between networking and venture creation is generally acknowledged, our review of the literature suggests that we have yet to untangle how networking may differ across the venture creation process. At what stage of the process does networking appear to be most actively used by aspiring and practicing entrepreneurs? How do the network partners differ in importance as entrepreneurs moved from nascence to harvest?

We propose to add to theory by using the insights gained from the study's data to help explain how, in this research context, entrepreneurial networks do differ in kind, resources made available, and importance across the stages of the venture creation process. The study should provide practitioners and aspiring entrepreneurs with empirical evidence that some networking partners appear to be more appropriate at one stage of the venture creation process than at other stages. The expected results will benchmark which networking partners tend to be most important to successful entrepreneurship. The results should also better inform theoreticians and practitioners: (a) why the networking process must be persistent over time; (b) who in their network is important at different stages of the venture creation process; (c) what kinds of resources are typically provided by their networks; and (d) how to better fashion their networking activities as a function of the stage of venture creation.

This study also takes a staged approach to the research questions. In our first stage and as a reality check on the qualitative perspective on networking in the real world, we conducted a series of in-depth interviews with a small group of entrepreneurs that reflected the profile of the planned sample population. To assist in reaching a targeted subset of high tech entrepreneurs, the research team used its preexisting relationship with a premier networking organization, The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE; TiE is a global non-profit network of entrepreneurs and professionals, primarily from the Indian continent who are committed to the advancement of entrepreneurship). Excerpts from these first hand interviews are incorporated into the discussion of sample descriptions. As noted, the interviewees were all South Asians which directly corresponds to the nature of the membership of TiE and also reflects the dominant ethnicity of the database from which our sample respondents were selected. The approach was to minimize noise in the data by focusing on a common geography and a common industry (that is, the high tech industry and Silicon Valley). Given the high percentage of entrepreneurs in the chosen geography who are of South Asian descent, we also used this common ethnic characteristic to help guide our outreach to the sample that is described below. TiE has excellent credibility in the target community and a strong international reputation in the entrepreneurial community at large.

Secondly, we used the information from the in-person interviews to develop and then implement a survey tool that systematically examined the importance of networking activities across the venture creation process. We also informed that empirically based tool with a review of the literature on networking and entrepreneurship. …

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