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Title: The role of entrepreneurial networking in the business incubator
Author: McAdam, Maura.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3622 3300
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2004
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The thesis examines the contribution of the business incubator to the networking activities of the small entrepreneurial firm. Consequently, in so doing the thesis explores how these activities evolve throughout the entrepreneurial transformation process whilst considering the effect of close firm proximity. As such, the thesis draws on the business incubator, cluster, entrepreneurship and networking literature in order to provide a platform from which an appreciation of how the incubator contributes to the networking activities of the entrepreneurial firm is gained. The key element of the business incubator is the entrepreneurial firm. The entrepreneurial firm is one which is driven by an individual with an opportunity focus and a commitment to growth orientated strategies. The identification of the entrepreneurial firm as a 'firm under transition' recognises the entrepreneurial effort as a dynamic rather than static phenomenon. The impact of the business incubator on small firm survival rate has been noted. However, this study provides new insights from a networking perspective. Therefore, the thesis focuses on the relationship between proximity of the incubator and the networking activities of the firms in the incubator. Moreover, an emphasis is placed on the intangible benefits of networking rather than the widely cited tangible benefits such as shared facilities. This coupled with the recognition of the importance of the management of networks has led to the identification of an area requiring research, that of the networked incubator. Within this thesis, the empirical work is cited within the qualitative tradition with an exploration of two incubators, eighteen firms in total using a two stage interview process which took place over a six month time period. The thesis focuses on addressing the generic issue of the entrepreneurial firm within the business incubator. However, as the research progressed the comparative dimension of the research became evident. Consequently, the research acknowledges the impact of the inclusion of two different incubator types on the wealth and richness of the data collected. This thesis makes five notable contributions to the area of business incubation research. Firstly, by focusing on the tensions inherent in incubation networks the research added a new dimension to how networks were understood within the business incubator. Secondly, trust and empathy were necessary in order to address these tensions in the business incubator. Thirdly, entrepreneurial networks were identified as an important function in the opportunity identification and opportunity realisation process within the business incubator. Fourthly, the entrepreneurial firm within the business incubator as a firm under transition was identified. Finally, the neglect of social networks within the incubator leads to a wealth of intimate knowledge and intelligence remaining untapped.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available