تاثیر سرمایه اجتماعی بر انتخاب استراتژیک : بررسی اثرات روابط شبکه خارجی و داخلی بر پیچیدگی استراتژیک
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|4200||2009||7 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Business Research, Volume 62, Issue 12, December 2009, Pages 1255–1261
In this research we investigated the direct contributions of social capital via network involvement to the strategic complexity of firms. Specifically, we looked at three network types – trade associations, external personal networks, and internal personal networks – to assess their individual and collective effects on strategic complexity. We empirically tested the relationships in the rural telecommunications industry using a mailed survey to this population's CEOs. We obtained 203 responses (30% response rate). Using Poisson regression, we found that all three network types were positively associated with strategic complexity, which was measured as product portfolio breadth. We also discovered that initial conditions affected strategic outcomes, with larger firms and cooperative ownership associated with greater strategic complexity
“What is the role of social capital in economic activity?” This question challenges the atomistic portrayal of the firm as an independent actor that has historically dominated strategic theory. Social capital, a term originating in the sociological study of communities (Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998), refers to the benefits derived by individuals or groups from being socially embedded in various networks (Greve, 1995). Inkpen and Tsang (2004, p. 151) define social capital as “the aggregate of resources embedded within, available through, and derived from the network of relationships possessed by an individual or organization.” A rich body of work has emerged to demonstrate that, indeed, social capital plays a significant role in developing, stimulating and accelerating economic activity (Aldrich et al., 1987, Bell, 2005, Granovetter, 1973, Johannisson, 1988, Leana and Pil, 2006, Maurer and Ebers, 2006 and Uzzi, 1997). As this literature has grown, so has the number of aspects of social capital that have been investigated. A key aspect of social capital is whether the network relationship is internal or external to the firm (e.g., Leana and Pil, 2006). Social capital also has been found to influence a variety of outcomes, such as firm survival (McDonald and Westphal, 2003), innovation (Julien et al., 2004 and Kraatz, 1998), and profitability (Bennett, 1998). Yet, this proliferation of social capital applications has led some researchers to decry the overexpansion of the concept. Portes (1998, p. 2) bemoans that: …social capital has evolved into something of a cure-all for the maladies affecting society at home and abroad…. [the] original meaning of the term and its heuristic value are being put to severe tests by these increasingly diverse applications. In response, several excellent synthesis articles have helped focus researchers' attention on the next generation of issues to be addressed in the social capital domain (e.g., Adler and Kwon, 2002, Inkpen and Tsang, 2004, Leana and Van Buren, 1999 and Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998). These articles point to more complex, integrated research designs that address multiple network aspects and/or levels of analysis in one study. Adler and Kwon (2002), in particular, conclude that examining social capital dimensions independently weakens our ability to see the fuller picture. They argue that research on two key network dimensions – internal, bonding, social capital, versus external, bridging, social capital – has been “bifurcated,” and they specifically call for research that concurrently examines external and internal networks. Another refinement which scholars argue for is a more sophisticated understanding of the impact of network ties on outcomes. Instead of assumptions of unilaterally positive effects from increased social capital, scholars have acknowledged the potential downside of social capital (e.g., Leana and Pil, 2006, Maurer and Ebers, 2006, Portes, 1998 and Uzzi, 1997), and argue that future studies need to consider the valence of social capital's impact on organizational outcomes. We contribute to the research by examining the simultaneous influences of multiple networks, internal and external to the organization, on strategic complexity. In this research, we investigate two questions: Do external and internal networks contribute independently and positively to strategic complexity? and, when considering external and internal networks together, do they offset each other's potential advantages?
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Various aspects of social capital have been investigated, but there has been little work examining multiple sources of social capital concurrently in the same study (Adler and Kwon, 2002). We investigated the influences of multiple networks independently and concurrently, and we examined the benefits of each network to strategic complexity. We believed that richer knowledge management capabilities would be reflected in a more sophisticated strategic profile, as measured by greater strategic complexity. Thus, we predict universally positive effects from social capital. Although knowledge management is the theoretical lynchpin of our model, we did not measure knowledge management; we inferred knowledge management capabilities from demonstrable levels of strategic complexity. We found that all three network relationships were associated with greater strategic complexity. First, firms with extensive trade association involvement, both national and regional, had larger product portfolios than those firms that had less trade association involvement. We suspect that trade associations provide diverse knowledge about a wide variety of potential new products. Second, firms whose CEOs reported large external personal networks were associated with greater strategic complexity than firms with CEOs who were less connected, externally. Third, firms whose CEOs reported large internal personal networks were associated with greater strategic complexity than firms with more detached CEOs. Finally, our fourth hypothesis, that all three of these types of network relationships would be simultaneously important for strategic complexity, was supported, indicating that each form of social capital is important with respect to affecting the strategic profile of the firm. The only type of network that was not predictive in our research was participation in state trade associations, which may be due to the dual nature of trade associations (Bennett, 1998). Trade associations, in general, are primarily formed for providing service information and for collective action. State trade associations probably function predominantly for collective action, with state trade organizations heavily focused on working with state regulators, because regulation in the telephone industry is still enacted primarily on a state by state basis. It appears that, in our sample, exposure to new and diverse information is more likely to come from national and regional trade associations. Both control factors were significant, which indicates that organizational conditions before deregulation are enduring and affect strategic complexity. We found a differential effect of ownership on strategic complexity, with cooperatively owned firms having greater product portfolio breadth. One possible explanation is that cooperatives may be more adept at managing networks outside the firm, given their linkages to many stakeholders, and they may have more permeable organizational boundaries than non-cooperative telecommunications firms, opening themselves up to more knowledge acquisition opportunities. Cooperatives may also have access to more national trade associations than non-cooperatives, although many cooperative trade associations allow in non-cooperative members as long as they are small, rural providers. Not surprisingly, large firms in 1995 were associated with more strategic complexity. This could be indicative of a larger community being served, thus more diverse needs in the community to which the firm offers products. The relevance of size on future strategic choices is consistent with the Noda and Collis' (2001) finding about the importance of origin influences in the multi-billion dollar Baby Bells and the growth of their cellular revenues. Certainly, size afforded these Baby Bells slack resources — in terms of financial resources as well as managers who could be deployed to investigate new opportunities. While our results point to a strong effect for social capital being instrumental in increasing the firm's strategic complexity, we were concerned that the cross-sectional nature of our data might open the door to question the direction of causality in our findings. For instance, firms with larger product portfolios could be courted to participate in larger and more intimate networks, increasing their overall social capital. To address this possibility, we performed some post-hoc analyses. For every relationship in the personal advice network, the respondent identified the length of this relationship. In over 75% of the cases, including up to six relationships per respondent, the relationship was over eight years old and the average length of time reported for each relationship exceeded the average time each respondent had been a member of the top management team. Together these analyses indicate that these relationships began before the deregulation date of 1996 and preceded manager promotion to the top management team. Thus, these relationships were in place before the product portfolio was increased. While these analyses increase our confidence in our findings, we suggest that future researchers design longitudinal studies that can definitively address causality. Our findings provide practical insights for managers not only in the rural telecommunications industry but for managers of other small rural firms. In order to avoid competitor entrant and dissuade takeover, rural telecommunications managers should fund trade conference attendance and devote time to develop and sustain personal industry relationships. Even with current technologies, the face-to-face interactions appear to be critical to knowledge assimilation and, in turn, to the creation of complex strategic offerings. Our findings also suggest that executives should devote energies to multiple network experiences, both external and internal, in order to build their organizations' knowledge management capacities to execute more complex strategies. Our findings did not address organizational performance because we were interested in the more immediate effect of social capital on strategic profiles. A next step in this stream, however, is to examine how networks affect strategic complexity, and subsequently, how that complexity affects organizational outcomes such as profitability, market share and survival. We know from the product proliferation literature that expanding product line breadth is a characteristic of profitable firms (Bayus and Putsis, 1999 and Mascarenhas et al., 2002). Further, Bonner et al. (2005) found that multiple dimensions of network structure affected network identity which improves performance. Although we have demonstrated the relationship between social capital and strategic profile, our results are not comprehensively explanatory. Future research should investigate other features that may be important for small rural firms as they try to augment their strategic offerings. For example, certain executive traits might influence the organization's willingness to assume more risk in the form of product portfolio expansion. If a CEO is supporting an extended family from the business, he or she may focus on cash flow, less risk taking, and be unmotivated to expand the product portfolio. Similarly, institutional norms affecting cooperative firms may dampen their interest in strategic growth (Dimaggio and Powell, 1983 and Meyer and Rowan, 1977). The growth of the local market may affect the ability or discretion of the top executives to offer new products (Hambrick and Abrahamson, 1995). Importantly, we demonstrate that firms that are spatially isolated are able to benefit from network relationships, a finding which stands in contrast to the substantial body of research that highlights the role of local industrial clusters as sources of information and sustainability (Almeida and Kogut, 1997, Piore and Sabel, 1984 and Saxenian, 1994). We suggest that future researchers explore geographic proximity and network benefits more closely to help tease out the contingency circumstances under which local cluster participation is critical and when it is not necessary for the beneficial development of social capital. Another intriguing area for future social capital research is to unpack the black box of knowledge management. Much of the theoretical development of this paper, and most other social capital research, relies on the idea that networks facilitate knowledge management, which in turn has specific effects on organizational actions and outcomes. Although the logic of knowledge management was supported in our study, we did not measure any knowledge management features, such as knowledge acquisition or knowledge integration. An important advancement in this stream, then, is future research that directly connects multiple types of network participation with specific knowledge management capabilities within the same study. Finally, our research was restricted to a sample of small, rural firms. This set of firms may have specialized knowledge management needs and constraints. It is important to replicate multiple network studies in different types of industries, with larger firms, less geographic isolation, and different levels of industry dynamism (e.g., Newell et al., 2004). Our research demonstrates that investments in social capital, via trade association participation and internal and external personal networks, can be viable options for knowledge acquisition and integration in firms. Therefore, network participation in multiple domains may be of vital importance for small rural firms that need or want to expand their strategic profile. Our findings also provide evidence that executives can undertake actions to be involved in external networks and turn to advice networks which, in turn, can augment company growth through strategic complexity.