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Social networks in the entrepreneurial career: life-stories analysis of informal entrepreneurs in Bobo-Dioulasso (Burkina-Faso) (In French)

  • Jean-Philippe BERROU (GREThA UMR CNRS 5113)

This paper analyzes the evolution and transformation of social relations and networks of access to resources during the professional career of micro entrepreneurs in the informal African urban economy. Our analysis of social networks fits in the ‘structural embeddedness’ framework of Granovetter (1985) associated with a dynamic perspective of social relations. This perspective allows taking into account the temporal dimension of embeddedness, and its links with others social mediations, as communities, organizations and formal institutions. With such a view, embeddedness is analyzed with its reverse, the decoupling that is to say how actors and structures become independent from social relations (White, 1992). From a methodological standpoint, our analysis of life-stories of micro and small entrepreneurs of Bobo-Dioulasso (Burkina-Faso) combines qualitative and quantitative methods. It suggests that social networks and interpersonal relations of access to resources are constructed through a long-time process. Thus they can not be so easily and quickly mobilized by the entrepreneurs as it is sometimes suggested in social capital approaches. We then observe a co-construction phenomenon of social networks and activity that undermine the view of social capital as a substitute for lack of personal resources. The development and resilience of micro and small activities are directly linked to the professionalization and the stabilization of the network; and even the institutionalization of access to resources. However, it should not mask strong inequalities among entrepreneurs according to their initial social network and the dynamic of their business environment.

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Paper provided by Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée in its series Cahiers du GREThA with number 2010-09.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:grt:wpegrt:2010-09
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  1. Durlauf,S.N. & Fafchamps,M., 2004. "Social capital," Working papers 12, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
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