The Evolution and Nature of Young Firm Networks: A Longitudinal Perspective
This paper describes the evolution of networks during the first three years after start-up and puts forward explanations of the nature of networks of young firms after three years. We extend current research on networks by explicitly including both temporal change and spatial variation in our analyses of the longitudinal dataset. In this paper we define networks as: the main business relationships with respect to sales, supply, outsourcing and cooperation. The nature of these business relationships is specified by four main characteristics: type, number, source, and location. The longitudinal network analysis is therefore at the micro-level: the individual young firm and the characteristics of its most important business contacts are central. In contrast to the literature our analyses show that sales relationships become increasingly social in source during the first three years after start-up. We also find a persistent geographical concentration strategy in the main business relationships. It seems that extra-regional relationships are losing ground to intra-regional relationships over time: firms are narrowing their spatial scope in their first three years. In addition, we trace important effects of gender, education, innovative firm behaviour, region and sector on the nature of young firm networks three years after start-up. Copyright 2003 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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