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Adele Smith, Paul A. Ryan and Natasha Evers

The born global network for rapid internationalization represents a ‘black box’ as is reflected by the limited studies on the importance of intermediary actors and network nodes in their internationalization process. To address this research gap this study contributes to born global network theory in that it investigates the international network for a defined population of Irish indigenous born globals operating in the highly globalized digital animation industry. Given the small domestic market and breadth of global product sourcing within this industry, the indigenous Irish digital animation firms must, from inception, quickly access customers in the international arena if they wish to survive and prosper. This chapter addresses two research questions: (1) how do network intermediaries influence the internationalization of born globals in the digital animation industry? (2) How do network nodes influence the internationalization process of born globals in the digital animation industry? The study takes a ‘microscopic view’ into the network mechanics in the born global network, intermediary by intermediary, node by node, to open the black box of the born global network and identify the elements that compose the network and plug the structural holes between producer and buyer in the digital animation global marketplace. It finds that the principal intermediaries in the digital animators’ international network are institutional bodies such as the government enterprise agency and, even more so, the national industry trade association and the entrepreneurs’ personal social capital from prior training and work relationships. The foremost network nodes are the industry’s international tradeshows wherein firms pitch their produce and business is cemented or nurtured. Agents inside the industry play an important but fleeting role. Despite the burgeoning growth of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, physical venues continue to serve as the most important sites for interaction between buyers and sellers in this international network.