An examination of the antecedents to small and medium enterprise co-operation, and their effect on network propensity and behaviour
Business co-operation in the small firm sector has in recent years been the beneficiary of both considerable academic debate and public sector funding for its facilitation. This thesis reviews the pertinent literature in the fields of business co-operation, trust, commitment and personality psychology. The limitations of existing networking - co-operation SME research are identified, and in particular the dearth of empirical based research. Where such research exists, no attempt is made to isolate variables which might determine whether individuals are likely to co-operate with others, and / or the likely success of their co-operative activities. As a means of addressing these perceived flaws in the literature the potential antecedent role of owner-manager's personality, business related group affiliation, and owner-manager's and firm's demographics are examined in relation to their propensity to co-operate with others. A polymorphous definition of SME sector co-operation is adopted in which it is possible for actors to co-operate with varying parties and in a number of capacities. Extensive use is made of univariate chi-square and multivariate logistic regression techniques, with a logistic regression model ultimately being extended for each of the types of co-operation identified. The second phase of the empirical research conducted is focused upon the individual business network. Potential antecedents to small firm network success are examined at the aggregate level, and recommendations offered which network actors and facilitators can utilise as a means of heightening the likelihood of success within their own groups. The thesis closes with a re-examination of the hypothesis, drawing of conclusions relating to them, and the identification of areas for further research.