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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : The Journal of High Technology Management Research, Volume 13, Issue 1, Spring 2002, Pages 45–62
This study of 65 New Zealand-based high-technology firms examined resource leveraging via different networks in relation to firm age and growth. Age was not a significant factor in the type of network focus. However, age interacted with the type of network focus in terms of profit growth, and the highest sales growth was associated with resource leveraging via horizontal, or competitor-based, networks. Implications include continually assessing the origins of external resources and their impact on performance.
The use of networks to access external resources and pursue competitive advantage is considered to be “the essence of entrepreneurship” and the distinguishing factor between fast- and slow-growth firms (Jarillo, 1989). However, we have very little empirical evidence comparing and contrasting the sources of external resources and their relationship to the growth of the firm. The evidence, to date, suggests that age is an important determinant of network emphasis. For example, social networks, or resources from family and friends, predominate during the early stages of a venture's life (Birley, 1985); more strategic networks transpire later in the life of the firm, and tend to consist of relations with customers and suppliers (Larson & Starr, 1993). However, taking the view that one of the distinguishing factors of entrepreneurial firms is the emphasis on growth (Carland, Hoy, Boulton, & Carland, 1984), we may find that some entrepreneurs in young firms eschew the use of social networks in favor of more strategic networks that support their growth objective. Therefore, in this article, we incorporate growth to further explore the relationship between age and the use of networks. In addition, research on more strategic networks has tended to focus on relations along the value chain, or vertical networks. We have very little information on the use of horizontal, or competitor-based, networks, although firms that are constrained by a lack of resources may logically see those resources residing with competitors. In a rapidly changing business environment, competitor firms may be the best source of complementary resources or up-to-date information. Given this, it might be conjectured that information and resource asymmetries would result from an emphasis on alternative forms of network, and that this would have an impact on the growth or competitive advantage of the firm. This study investigates this issue by studying the growth of the firm in the context of different types of networks. From this brief introduction, it is apparent that growth may be both a determinant and an outcome of the focus on different types of networks to access external resources. In this study, we investigate growth as a dependent variable in the hypothesized relationships; however, we also attempt to ascertain motivations for, and advantages of, different network emphases through additional contextual questions in our questionnaire survey. In sum, the research reported here has three objectives in building upon and extending existing knowledge: • to investigate the use of internal and external resources by New Zealand-based high-technology entrepreneurs; • to determine the nature and sources of the resources externally accessed; • and most importantly, in terms of advancing knowledge in the field, to relate the findings to the age and growth of the firm. The following section provides a review of the literature regarding the use of networks by entrepreneurial firms, which includes the presentation of the research hypotheses. The method and measures employed to test the hypotheses are then highlighted before presenting the results of the research. The article concludes by drawing implications for practice, research, and policy.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The present study examined the use of internal and external resources by 65 New Zealand-based, high-technology entrepreneurial firms and, where external resources were accessed, the use of social/vertical and horizontal networks was explored in the context of the age and growth of the firm. The central proposition of the article was that entrepreneurial firms would depend on network relationships to access external resources, and that the more growth-oriented firms would eschew the need for the social/personal networks typical of the startup stage of many ventures Birley, 1985, Larson & Starr, 1993 and Ostgaard & Birley, 1994. Further, it was hypothesized that horizontal, or competitor-based, networks would represent a critical source of external resources in the context of the growth of the firm. The results confirmed that firms that achieved higher sales growth leverage their resource base via external networks. This finding is consistent with the work of Jarillo (1989), who determined that the use of external resources was typical of entrepreneurial, high-growth management (p. 133). However, the main contribution of the present research is the focus on the nature of the networks, in terms of their social, vertical, or horizontal characteristics, in relation to the age and growth of the firm. First, firms experiencing above sample average sales growth employ horizontal, or competitor-based, networks. Although this supports the results of the Brown and Butler (1995) study of firms in the U.S. wine industry, it stands in contrast to the research by Golden and Dollinger (1993) who concluded that the use of networks was not related to the growth of the firm. Second, profitability is dependent on the interaction of the age of the firm and network type. Noticeably, older firms employing social/vertical networks experienced lower profit growth compared to younger firms employing social/vertical networks and older firms employing no networks or horizontal networks. Thus, the use of age as a moderating variable allowed these researchers to uncover a relationship between profitability and networks that was not discernible in the research of Brown and Butler (1995). Third, younger firms using social/vertical networks exhibit higher profit growth initially. This is consistent with Birley's (1985) observation of the important role of social networks at startup. However, it would appear from our research that social and vertical networks are indistinguishable in terms of their contribution to the study firms, therefore, vertical networks may also be important at the early stages of the firms' development. On the other hand, competitor networks are tangibly different to the other two network forms in terms of both sales growth, irrespective of age, and profit growth, for older firms. This research supports the notion that networks are necessary to the entrepreneurial process. However, the categorization of these networks is not meant to imply that firms utilize a particular type exclusively; rather, it appears that firms achieving high sales and profit growth actively engage in collaborative arrangements that involve competitors. This finding, in terms of horizontal networks, seems to lend more support to Larson and Starr's (1993) argument that networks are combined at startup and over time, than to Falemo's (1989) argument that organizations change their network focus over time. However, the findings relating to the low sales growth firms, and to older firms achieving low profit growth when focusing on social/vertical networks, might be explained by Falemo's perspective. That is, the low-growth firms in this sample may be in transit from the social/vertical networks of their youth and turning their energies to the establishment and maintenance of horizontal networks; or, in terms of profit, the older firms using social/vertical networks may have failed to change to more profitable, horizontal networks. It is not possible, given the cross-sectional nature of these data, to determine these issues for certain, however, they indicate that a contingent view might be appropriate.