سرمایه اجتماعی در رشد شرکت های کوچک و متوسط مبتنی بر علم و فن آوری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|17944||2008||10 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 37, Issue 5, July 2008, Pages 513–522
There is increasing evidence of the positive role social capital plays in accessing resources and capabilities from and with other actors, and in establishing and maintaining business relationships. Yet, surprisingly little is known about how an organization's social capital and its utilization evolve over time. Focusing on this gap, this paper explores the role of social capital and its structural, relational and cognitive dimensions in the growth of science-and-technology-based SMEs. On the basis of our studies on social capital, entrepreneurial networks and SME growth, we develop a conceptual framework to describe their development through four overlapping phases, each of which involves different managerial tasks: innovation assessment, offering development, commercialization and rapid growth. The results of our longitudinal multiple case studies show that; (i) different types of networks and relationships are important in the transitional periods between the growth phases; and (ii) the role of social capital and its different dimensions varies in developing, maintaining and utilizing these partnerships and network relationships. These findings offer several managerial implications.
The innovation activity of small firms is generally seen to push out industry boundaries and to open up new business fields (Acs and Audretsch, 1990 and Bound et al., 1984). Even in the context of rapid globalization, the creation of new knowledge has been shown to be an essentially local activity, taking place within social and business relationships between actors with different and complementary knowledge bases (Doz et al., 2001, Lundgren, 1995, Lundval, 1992 and Powell et al., 1996). However, as small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) typically suffer from a lack of resources, their central role in the development of technology- and science-driven industries is paradoxical. How can they overcome the burden of resource scarcity? Evidence from SME and entrepreneurship studies suggests that a key condition for small firms to be innovative and grow is that they should have network mobilization capability; i.e. the ability to establish networks of partners (Hoang and Antonic, 2003, Hung, 2006, Jack, 2005, Jarillo, 1989, Lechner et al., 2006, Lipparini and Sobero, 1994, Neergaard, 2005, O'Donnel et al., 2001, Pittaway et al., 2004 and Rickne, 2006). Social capital and relationships are key facilitators in this establishment process (Chetty and Campbell-Hunt, 2003, Cross et al., 2002, Elfring and Hulsink, 2003, Hanna and Walsh, 2002, Hitt and Ireland, 2002, Jarillo, 1989, Lechner and Dowling, 2003, Lipparini and Sobero, 1994, Rangone, 1999, Rogers, 2004, Yli-Renko et al., 2001 and Yli-Renko et al., 2002). However, although it is acknowledged that social capital plays an important role in SME networks, little is known of the dynamics of its utilization in company growth (Maurer & Ebers, 2006). Our aim is to fill this research gap by conducting qualitative, multiple case studies that combine the perspectives of social capital, entrepreneurial and industrial networks in the analysis of SME growth. On the evidence of the existing literature in this field (e.g., Churchill and Lewis, 1983, Jolly, 1997, Moore, 1995a and Moore, 1995b), we propose that the growth of science-and-technology-based SMEs could be described in terms of four overlapping phases: innovation assessment, offering development, commercialization and rapid growth. This process perspective is essential, as organizations have been shown to face different requirements along their developmental paths (Greiner, 1993 and Kazanjian, 1988). Each phase is characterized by different core value activities that require the availability of matching resources and capabilities. Because of their limited internal resources, SMEs are expected to search for and access external resources through various relationships and networks, primarily through the social capital of their core personnel: generally the CEO and his/her team (Hite and Hesterly, 2001, Maurer and Ebers, 2006 and Starr and MacMillan, 1990). It is argued that network mobilization capability and the social capital involved form a critical precondition enabling the firm to transcend from one phase to another. This study explores the identified critical precondition of network mobilization, the aim being to enhance our understanding of the role of social capital in the early growth phases of science-and-technology-based SMEs. We argue that such a deeper understanding would be valuable as the commercial breakthroughs these firms experience provide important innovative product/service offerings for society. More specifically, the objective is to assess how the role of social capital and its dimensions (Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998), vary in the transition between the postulated growth phases. Developing a contingency view makes a significant contribution given that research now demonstrates how the value of social capital depends on a number of contexts and contingencies (Maurer & Ebers, 2006). This paper is organized in six sections. Next we examine the concept of social capital and discuss the industrial and social perspectives on networks in the SME context. We then go on to construct a conceptual framework, which identifies the different growth phases and the key networks that enable an SME to shift from one phase to another. The Section 4 describes the methodology used in the study, which was based on a longitudinal multi-case design, and in Section 5, we present our empirical findings. A discussion on the theoretical and managerial implications, followed by our suggestions for further research, conclude the study.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study has explored the role of social capital in the development of science-and-technology-based SMEs aiming at rapid growth. Because of their resource scarcity, SMEs are seen to be dependent on their ability to access resources and on their skills in forming partnerships and network relationships. The accumulation of social capital has been argued to have a critical role in this process. The following key propositions guided our inquiry. First, we suggested that it was meaningful to divide the growth of SMEs into four overlapping phases: innovation assessment, offering development, commercialization and rapid growth. Secondly, it appears that major changes related to the relevance of social capital in accessing and developing resources through relationships and networks are manifested in the transition between the phases. Thirdly, given the fact that firms have to master different types of capabilities and resources in each growth phase, the role of social capital in mobilizing these networks is expected to differ. In the following, we first discuss the theoretical contribution of the study by presenting a new framework setting out the role of different dimensions of social capital in the growth of science-and-technology-based SMEs. In conclusion, we discuss the managerial implications and offer suggestions for future research. 6.1. Theoretical contribution The key contribution of this study is in providing new evidence and understanding of the role that different dimensions of social capital play in the growth of science-and-technology-driven SMEs. We illustrate this contribution, including its two major elements, with the help of an extended framework (Fig. 2).First, our case results provide evidence of the proposed four overlapping but distinguishable phases (innovation assessment, offering development, commercialization and rapid growth) characterized by the different tasks that an SME has to master in order to achieve rapid growth. This growth process appears to be more complicated than previously believed (Churchill and Lewis, 1983, Greiner, 1972, Scott and Bruce, 1987 and Quinn and Cameron, 1983). From the results of the Green Rock Case, and more implicitly on the evidence of the Movial Case, it seems that the development of innovation activities and of social capital related to the KIT networks involved is an on-going activity that continues after the innovation assessment phase. This is indicated by the circular "R&D arrows" in the upper part of Fig. 2. Obviously, this observation could be of particular relevance for science-and-technology-driven SMEs. Secondly, the study provides clear support for; (i) the argument that different types of networks and partner relationships are important in each of the three postulated transitions between the phases; and (ii) for the argument that the role of social capital varies in developing, maintaining and utilizing these partnerships and network relationships. These two interrelated points are summarized in the lower part of the extended framework. It should be noted that, although some level of social capital can be assumed to be present in all business relationships, only the relationships in which it has played a significant role are referred to in the figure. Social capital has a vital role in mobilizing the KIT networks of science-and-technology-based SMEs in the transition from innovation assessment to offering development. Cognitive capital is essential in creating a limited set of strong relational, trust-based ties, which are the cornerstone of scientific and technological collaboration. In addition, both structural (centrality) and relational social capital is helpful in creating the level of trust among financial institutions that facilitates the acquisition of venture capital. Social capital also has an essential role in the transition between offering development and commercialization, especially in terms of transforming weak ties into collaborative business relationships such as with potential pilot customers, distributors and new R&D partners. In asymmetric partnering situations – SMEs approaching major incumbent firms – the managers have to be able to convince potential customers of their expertise in the field, their awareness of its problems and the workability of their offerings. This presumes strong cognitive capital, which seems to form a prerequisite for developing stronger relational ties characterized by trust — something that is often necessary in establishing collaborative partnerships in complex fields. These partners then provide the required critical mass or structural capital for commercialization and act as reference partners helping the company to overcome the liability of newness. The network environment of an SME becomes more complex in the transition from commercialization to rapid growth and incorporates supplier and production networks, distributor networks, KIT networks and public actors, for example. The growth of a company enhances its reputation and strengthens its financial position. This progress has several implications for the role of social capital. First, as a reputable and attractive actor (the structural dimension), the company can gain easier access to new networks and resources. Secondly, by utilizing its stronger financial status, it becomes less dependent on other actors in the networks and thus has more options in terms of choosing and accessing partnerships. This evolution diminishes the overall significance of social ties, but they still have an important role in facilitating collaboration with various suppliers and distributors, although these relationships seem to become more susceptible to market governance. However, it seems evident that constant growth requires continuous renewal of the business and the capability to recognize and capitalize on new market opportunities. This puts more emphasis on maintaining and cultivating KIT relationships, and, depending on the market conditions, on utilizing social capital when grasping emerging business opportunities — as exemplified by the new agent network in the case of Green Rock. The accumulation of functionally differentiated network relationships is an important finding that emphasizes the need to manage the relationship portfolio. In sum, we contend that the constructed framework, which describes the role of social capital in the growth of science-and-technology-based SMEs has a significant synthesizing function that is lacking in prior studies on SME growth. Our findings promote a better understanding of how these SMEs may progress to rapid growth and a new insight into the role of social capital and its dimensions in that process. 6.2. Managerial implications, limitations and future research The constructed framework model and the empirical findings offer several managerial implications. First, the identified growth phases and their specific managerial tasks sensitize managers to the need to assess what kind of resources and capabilities they have to develop and acquire. Secondly, our framework may help managers to identify their firm's current growth phase and to recognize the essential networks and partnerships that bridge the phases. Thirdly, our empirical findings could assist managers in terms of discerning what kinds of roles social capital and its key dimensions play in mobilizing their recognized networks and partnerships in order to foster the growth process and advance from one phase to another. The recognition of the central role of social capital suggests that managers of SMEs should consciously coordinate and allocate the relationship-building processes established by their limited key personnel. Our results also suggest that the CEO should carefully assess what kind of expertise or cognitive capital the top-management team may be lacking, as this seems essential in developing deeper collaborative relationships with major incumbents. As the company grows, this challenge is transformed into one of managing a portfolio of diverse network relationships (KIT networks, supplier, marketing and distribution networks, and institutional networks) serving different functions and goals. Even when the business reaches maturity and the relationships become more market-governed, social capital still has an important role in identifying and developing new business opportunities. In brief, rapid growth seems to require diverse networks and managers of SMEs therefore need to ensure that their limited and specialized human resources and social capital are optimally assigned to each network at each phase of growth. It should be noted that our results and their interpretations are based on a limited number of case companies based in Finland, which is a small open economy distant from major market areas. This may have a specific effect on their growth paths and networking patterns. More extensive longitudinal case studies, covering different fields of science and technology in different countries, are needed in order to assess the generality and robustness of the proposed framework and the identified roles of social capital.