What and How Entrepreneurial Startups Learn: Identifying the Types of Knowledge that Flow Through Network Ties

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Using qualitative data from China, this study advances a content-oriented approach of social network research that builds upon the dominant composition-oriented approach to provide a more comprehensive picture of the utility of networks. Drawing on six cases of private start-ups in the Chinese synthetic dye industry, we identify eight types of knowledge that flow through entrepreneur-incumbent networks during the foundation of start-ups and explore how and why variation in the knowledge obtained produces significant differences in start-ups’ long-term performance. Abstracting the eight types into two general categories of functional knowledge and strategic knowledge, we find that it is the reception of strategic, not functional knowledge, that shapes start-ups’ long-term competitiveness. We show that possessing technical knowledge during the founding period – which is one type of functional knowledge – is necessary for short-term success but not sufficient for long-term success of new ventures. Our findings show that performance implications of networks hinge significantly on the precise knowledge that flows through them, contributing to a more nuanced explanation of how social networks affect entrepreneurial firm performance.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017
10:30am – 12:00pm Presentation & QA
12:00pm – 1:00pm Lunch
Segal Graduate School
500 Granville Street, Vancouver
Room 2300 (2nd floor)
Please contact beedie-events@sfu.ca


Johann Peter Murmann is Professor of Strategic Management at the AGSM – UNSW Australia Business School. He was Visiting Associate Professor of Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania during the academic years 2011/12 and 2012/13. Before joining the AGSM – UNSW Australia Business School in January 2006, he was on the faculty of Northwestern University¹s Kellogg School of Management (from 1997 to 2005). He has lectured widely on the comparative case study method, giving tutorials at Academy of Management meetings, the Wharton School, Alto University, the University of Lille, and other institutions. He is a senior editor of the journal Management and Organization Review. One key focus in his research has been the development of the synthetic dye industry from 1850 to current times. His book ‘Knowledge and Competitive Advantage: The Coevolution of Firms, Technology and National Institutions’ received the 2004 Joseph Schumpeter Prize and 2004 Stanley Reiter Best Paper Award at the Kellogg School of Management. Most recently, he co-edited the book “China’s Innovation Challenge” that was published both by Cambridge and Peking University Press. Professor Murmann received a BA in Philosophy with honors from the University of California at Berkeley and a Masters and PhD degree with distinction in Management of Organizations (1998) from Columbia University. More details Professor Murmann can be found at professor-murmann.net.