Computers & Electronics

Egocentric Network Analysis of Personal Networks Ethnic Minority Female Entrepreneurs

The main objective of the paper is to explore and explain the differences/similarities in personal networks of, and their use by, immigrant and British born Pakistani female entrepreneurs for business growth. A broad range of studies has explored the
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   1 Egocentric Network Analysis of Personal Networks Ethnic Minority FemaleEntrepreneurs Asma Rauf  Doctoral Researcher Entrepreneurship and Innovation GroupEssex Business School, University of EssexSouthend-on-Sea, Essex SS1 1JE, UK   Professor Jay Mitra Director of Centre for Entrepreneurship and InnovationEssex Business School, University of EssexSouthend-on-Sea, Essex SS1 1JE, UK E-mail:   Abstract The main objective of the paper is to explore and explain the differences/similarities in personal networksof, and their use by, immigrant and British born Pakistani female entrepreneurs for business growth. A broad range of studies has explored the social context of ethnic minority and immigrant entrepreneurship by assuming all minority entrepreneurs as a cohesive group without taking into account intergroup(geographical categorisation) and intra-group (generational) differences. These differences are explained by socio-economic and cultural factors such as family background and support, ethnicity, religion,education, and more importantly personal network (Metcalf et. al., 1996; Basu, 1998). The blend of culture and religion depicted in entrepreneurial practices of Pakistani entrepreneurs is an interesting areato explore. Our particular interest is to explore the interactional dimension of the personal networks of Pakistani female entrepreneurs and its impact on the growth of their business. In order to explore themeaning and perceptions attached to relationships and the way they are being used for flourishing theentrepreneurial ventures, we use egocentric network analysis to take the µego¶s¶ (Pakistani femaleentrepreneur¶s) perspective to understand the individual entrepreneur's experiences of and with ties in personal networks. In-depth interviews are carried out with µname generator¶ questions and sociogramswere used to explore the nature of network ties and reasons for their formation. By generating an in depthunderstanding of the distinctive use of personal networks for growth of business by Pakistani femaleentrepreneurs the paper provides in depth knowledge and understanding of a particular ethnic minoritygroup that will be of use to business owners (Pakistani female entrepreneurs), academic researchers and policy makers. Key Words: Personal Network, Ethnic Minority Female Entrepreneurs, Egocentric Network Analysis   2 Introduction Entrepreneurs are embedded in the network of social relationships which enables them toacquire the resources and information from the external environment. The embeddedness of entrepreneurs in the network of social relationships is of crucial importance not only for entrepreneurs in general but for ethnic minority entrepreneurs in particular. The socialembeddedness framework asserts that the ³study of economic activity must include the analysisof social context within which economic actions occur´ (Granovetter, 1985; Uzzi, 1997, 1999).This social context is made up of individual and institutional actors, whose interactions form anongoing network of relationships. Kristiansen (2004) defines network of relationships as ³aseries of formal and informal ties between the central actor and other actors in a circle of acquaintances´. She argues that networks themselves may or may not be important but their importance lies in their function. According to Kristiansen (2004) a network acts as a ³channelthrough which entrepreneurs obtain necessary resources for business start up, growth andsuccess´. It depends on how the entrepreneur selects the network members and utilise them tothe benefit of entrepreneurial venture.The social context varies for different ethnic groups causing the varying network compositions and use of network across different social groups. Batergal (2007) comparednetworking activities of Chinese and Russian entrepreneurs and concluded that geographical andcultural factors are reflected in the personal networks of entrepreneurs in terms of density, natureof ties and interpersonal trust. Similarly by comparing the social networks of entrepreneursacross twenty countries Meyer et. al., (2007) tried to check the existence of ³universality´ in thenetworking process of entrepreneurs and concluded that culture acts as an important moderator in the entrepreneurial networking causing variations in the networking process across differentcultures. Different ethnic groups have variation in the formation, structure, utilization of network and networking process due to differences in cultures that lead to differential impact on theentrepreneurial practices.The GEM, 2006 Report points to higher rates of entrepreneurial activity in the UnitedKingdom for µSouth Asian¶ and µBlack¶ women entrepreneurs than their white female   3counterparts (Harding and Bosma, 2006). However, other studies have found that there areconsiderable differences in entrepreneurial endeavour and outcomes between and within theindividual ethnic minority groups. Geographical categorisation (for example, South American,South Asian, African entrepreneurs) and religious grouping (such as Bangladeshi and Pakistaniwomen) for statistical purposes ignore inter-group and intra-group of the various ethnic minoritycommunities (Salway, 2007). Basu (1998) argues that the entrepreneurial activities of SouthAsian ethnic minority groups differ because of differences in cultural factors such as education,skills, and family background and social networking behaviour.The implementation of the network perspective has led researchers to focus on the role of social relations in shaping entrepreneurial activities and their outcomes. Though research onethnic minority entrepreneurs in particular addresses questions on how social networks shape theentrepreneurial activities and outcomes in host country, however, it does not appreciate the inter and intra group heterogeneity in the ethnic groups that is essential for policy making. Thereforethis research study focuses on Pakistani female entrepreneurs to explore the role of personalnetwork in the growth of their entrepreneurial ventures. Personal network perspective can alsohelp to appreciate the peculiarity of the gender dimension of ethnic minority and particularlyPakistani business communities, to understand the inter-generational differences based onethnicity and gender within specific communities; and the motivations for self-employment andin particular growth-oriented entrepreneurial activities of Pakistani female entrepreneurs. The Dynamics of Personal Network  There is a long standing tradition in the field of entrepreneurship devoted to studying theentrepreneurs as a µnetwork person¶. Entrepreneurs regard the network of relationships as asource of support that assists them in entrepreneurial process in a variety of ways. The network approach to the entrepreneurship presumes that entrepreneurs depend on the network membersfor information, resources and support. The nature of the network maintained by theentrepreneurs determines the type and extent of support. The personal choices to maintain aspecific set of relationships with relatives, friends and business associates are reflected in the personal network of entrepreneurs (Hall and Wellman, 1998). A personal network can be definedas the all the network members with whom the entrepreneurs (the focal actor) has a direct   4relationship. Jack and Anderson (2002) note that an ³ego network (personal network) is based onthe perspective of an individual. If someone is asked to list all the people with whom they haverelationships, this list would constitute the individual¶s ego network´. Personal network studiesinvestigate the network relationships of the entrepreneur from his/her individual point of view.The personal network approach to entrepreneurship considers the entrepreneurs asembedded and dependent actors (Aldrich and Zimmer, 1986). The individual entrepreneur isembedded in the network of social relations and uses the network for extracting resources andemotional support. The network of social relationship itself is embedded in the wider socialcontext which means that the relationships are tied to the larger social structure that exerts theinfluence on the formative mechanisms of the network and dictates the availability of theresources to the entrepreneurs. Various social factors such as ethnicity, socially constructedgender roles, intergenerational differences, and personal choices of individual entrepreneurs,family background and other socio-demographic factors influence the formation and utilizationof personal network in a social context. For different social/ethnic groups these factors may varyaccording to their position in the society. Influences on Personal Network ± Gender, Generation and Ethnicity For minority businesses the role of networks is crucial as in the host country many of these businesses rely more on co-ethnic support, for both financial and non-financial reasons.However, the type of network maintained by the ethnic minority entrepreneurs determines thenature of support available to them. In his seminal work on the µstrength of weak ties¶,Granovetter (1973) seeks to connect individual behaviour to larger social structures byexamining the nature of ties (relationship) between persons. The strength of ties argumentfocuses on the types of connections between individuals and how they influence the flow of information and resources. The nature of relationship in the network is not independent of thesocial influences and is determined by a number of factors.Ethnicity, socio-cultural influences and gender roles are some of those potentfactors that influence the personal network of entrepreneurs to a huge extent. Iyer and Shapiro   5(1999) argue that immigrants start their entrepreneurial ventures because of the influence of ethnic ties and to serve their ethnic community. Ethnic minority females rely most on their ethnicnetwork and extract most of financial and emotional support from family and close friends.Therefore, they start the business with the help of family and friends and with the expansion of  business they extend their network to include outsiders. Similarly the gender based differenceswere found in network composition, use of network, method of accessing the network and perception of relations in personal networks (Aldrich, Reese and Dubini; 1989 , Stackman andPinder; 1999 , Verheul and Thurik; 2001 ). However, gender based differences in the networkingare attributed to the social context that assigns particular roles to men and women. Hodgetts andHegar (2007) note that females are µconservative¶ in their networking practices whereas, men areµbolder¶ and make their choices confidently as compare to women. Therefore, men and women¶sdifferent roles within the labor force, family, and community both shape and reflect their socialenvironments (Bastani, 2007; Lomnitz, 1982). Furthermore, different generations within anethnic group exhibit profound differences in entrepreneurial intentions (Sullivan et al., 2009),motivation (Levent et al., 2003, Rusinovi, 2006), choice of business sector (Gersick  et al., 1997)and growth aspirations (McGregor and Tweed, 2002; Kourilsky and Walstad, 1998). It is because of the exposure to the host society¶s culture and the absence of barriers, such as those of language and education, that opportunity structure is open to younger generations as compare totheir immigrant counterparts. Rusinovi¶s (2006) comparative study on first and secondgeneration Dutch entrepreneurs revealed that first generation (immigrant) entrepreneurs mainlyrely on informal networks to acquire resources as opposed to their second generationcounterparts.The interaction of gender, ethnicity and generational differences in ethnic minorityentrepreneurs has significant impact on their personal network formation and its use. Gender roles are constructed in different societies differently and they are passed on to next generations.Socially constructed gender roles are constructed and re-constructed (dynamic view), hence mayvary in different generations. They include specific µsources¶ such as family, friends, customersand institutions, and they use particular µresources¶ including information, capital, advice and,quite importantly, emotional support.
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