Orientation, Environment and Strategy
The McGill International Entrepreneurship series
Chapter 5: The International Reach of Entrepreneurial Social Networks: The Case of James Dyson in the UK
Oswald Jones and Steve Conway INTRODUCTION: STRATEGIC CHOICE VERSUS ENVIRONMENTAL DETERMINISM Our objective is to deconstruct the myth of entrepreneurs as ‘heroic’1 individuals solely responsible for the creation and management of new business ventures. We accomplish our goal by drawing on the well-known case of James Dyson, which highlights his invention of the dual cyclone vacuum cleaner (Dyson, 1997). Our argument is the following: networks and networking are central to entrepreneurial creation of new business ventures. It is now accepted that networks add an original dimension to the study of entrepreneurship and innovation (Freeman, 1991; DeBresson and Amesse, 1991). Steward and Conway (1998) suggest that the network approach permits a detailed analysis of dyadic links. Such links provide a framework for exploring the pluralistic patterns of communication and collaboration necessary for the successful development of innovative products and processes. A network can be visualized as a series of dyadic links and relationships between two actors, established for the exchange of ideas, information, goods, power and friendship (Tichy et al., 1979). It is important to look beyond portfolios of dyadic links, as networks can be greater than the sum of their interacting parts (DeBresson and Amesse, 1991; Auster, 1990). Existing theories can be placed on an environment-to-individual continuum, indicating influences on entrepreneurship (Manimala, 1999). At one extreme, economic theories (Kirzner, 1973; Casson, 1982) represent the environmental perspective in which entrepreneurial activity results from disequilibrium in supply and demand. At the other extreme, psychological theories concentrate on individual traits such as risk...
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