Redes de relaciones, capital social y competitividad empresarial. El caso de los emprendedores locales

  1. Hernández Carrión, Carlos
Supervised by:
  1. Carmen Camarero Izquierdo Director
  2. Jesús Gutiérrez Cillán Co-director

Defence university: Universidad de Burgos

Fecha de defensa: 08 April 2011

  1. Pablo Antonio Muñoz Gallego Chair
  2. Ana Isabel Rodríguez Escudero Secretary
  3. Víctor Iglesias Argüelles Committee member
  4. Domingo Enrique Ribeiro Soriano Committee member
  5. Teodoro Luque Martínez Committee member

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 308448 DIALNET


Abstract of the PhD Thesis The study of the competitiveness of businesses and territories has been shifting from a more narrow, strictly economic approach toward a broader approach, the so-called New Regional Development Paradigm, which encompasses sociological, institutional, political and economic variables to explain the competitiveness. In line with this approach, our thesis is inspired by two fundamental ideas: 1. Economic and social phenomena are closely related. 2. This relationship is especially evident in the case of entrepreneurs, given the extent to which social and economic roles are embedded. The figure of the entrepreneur is a key variable in explaining the economic and social development of a given territory, be it a country, a region, or a smaller locality. Our object of study is the entire network of relationships that entrepreneurs maintain with their environments. Our analysis of these relationships contains three objectives: 1. To determine the characteristics an entrepreneur's relationship networks should contain in order to facilitate the acquisition of strategic resources for their business. 2. To study to what extent the resources accesed through these neworks improve the entrepreneur's business performance. 3. To understand the role of the local development agencies as a structural hole. That is to say to what degree the relationships that a local development agency maintains with different socio-economic actors improve its ability to help entrepreneurs gain access to strategic resources. Our theoretical framework is multidisciplinary and firmly based on three approaches: the social capital approach, the relationship marketing, and the resource-based theory of competitive advantage. The first two are used to characterize the relationship networks of local entrepreneurs, while the resource-based theory of competitive advantage is used to propose a model that views these networks as a valuable asset to enhance local entrepreneur's competitiveness. To characterize the relationship networks of a local entrepreneur, this study proposes a set of variables that define the structure of the network (structural dimension of social capital), the quality of the ties between the network's members (relational dimension of social capital), and the business 2 of 3 strategic resources an entrepreneur can obtain through the network (resource dimension of social capital). Our model (H1 to H3) proposes that both the structural and the relational social capital of an entrepreneur's relationship network will affect the entrepreneneurs' access to resources through that network, and that these resources will improve business performance in terms of market results, financial results and innovation results (see Figure 1). This analysis is repeated for each of the four types of relationship networks of a local entrepreneur: informal relationships, professional relationships, associative relationships, and institutional relationships. Figure 1: Entrepreneur's social capital - business performance model Structural social capital Size Diversity Cohesion H1a H1b H1c H2 H1d H1e H3a H3b H3c Performance Innovation results Relational social capital Resource social capital Financial results Market results With respect to the relationships of local development agencies, we consider local and regional development as a relational phenomenon in which the development agencies perform a brokerage function between the different socio-economic actors of their environment (see Figure 2). The stronger the ties that a local development agency maintains with its environment, the more strategic resources the local entrepreneurs can obtain through the local develpment agency (H4). Figure 2: The relationships of the local development agency. Local development suppliers Internal relationships Lateral relationships Nearby LDAs Other development institutions Clients (to attract) Entrepreneurs External firms Tourism Local citizens Local firms and clusters Supra-local public administrations Local goverment Town council services Local development agency (LDA) 3 of 3 In completing the empirical analysis, the study sampled 965 local entrepreneurs and 91 local development agencies of Spain. To test the hypotheses we used a structural equation modeling based on the partial least square (PLS) methodology. The results confirm the hypotheses H1 to H4. This is to say that networks which are large, diverse, cohesive, and which contain relational social capital facilitate the entrepreneur's access to strategic resources. Furthermore, those entrepreneurs who use their networks to gain resources improve their business performance. The results also confirm that all types of networks (personal, professional, associative, and institutional) are sources of valuable assets for entrepreneurship. Additionally, the size of the business, a clear definition of the business strategy, and the competitive pressure of the environment contribute to improving the business performance of the local entrepreneur. On the other hand, the results corresponding to the hypothesis H5 confirm that local development is a relational phenomenon, and that the relationships of a local development agency with other socioeconomic actors allow the entrepreneurs to use the agency to obtain strategic resources. The study concludes with a set of recommendations for both entrepreneurs and local development agencies. The crucial points are: 1. Entrepreneurs should work to improve each of their relationship networks in terms of size, diversity, cohesion, and relational social capital. 2. Local development agencies should promote the use of these networks by entrepreneurs to obtain strategic resources for their business. Moreover, agencies occupy a structural hole position connecting different groups and should help entrepreneurs incorporate new members into their networks. 3. Local development should be considered a viable long-term strategy that combines cooperation and competition between socio-economic actors. The main contributions of this thesis are: 1. To put the focus on the networks as an intermediary level between broader micro and macro analyses. 2. To integrate different perspectives of the social sciences to study the competitiveness of entrepreneurs and local environments. 3. To clarify the dimensions and mechanisms of social capital and networks. 4. To propose a working model for entrepreneurs and local development agencies based on their relationships with the local environment.