In the modern Western world, urban residential neighbourhoods have witnessed a remarkable increase in the number of small-scale businesses, and these businesses are there to stay. For many small entrepreneurs, the neighbourhood offers both a favourable business context and strong and sustainable anchors for economic activities. Entrepreneurs and their firms are affected by the socio-economic neighbourhood characteristics and by their relationships with other local firms, entrepreneurs and residents. A thorough examination of the interdependencies between local networks and the presence and success of local firms requires large-scale longitudinal data on networks of entrepreneurs. This chapter discusses the methods and measurements that enable such examinations. It uses unique data collected among 200 entrepreneurs in Dutch residential neighbourhoods. New findings are presented on changes in the amount of (local) social capital that is present in the networks of these entrepreneurs, measured by the positions or occupations to which entrepreneurs have access. The main findings are that neighbourhood contacts seem to broaden over time, and, in particular, home-based entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs running firms that serve local markets increase their access to local social capital. The chapter concludes that future research should focus on the explanations of the changes in the social networks of (neighbourhood) entrepreneurs and on the link between the types of network change and the location strategy and success of entrepreneurs and their firms.
Veronique Schutjens, Gerald Mollenhorst and Beate Volker
Marianne de Beer, Gerald Mollenhorst and Veronique A.J.M. Schutjens
In this chapter the dynamics in the social networks of Dutch entrepreneurs in residential neighbourhoods is explored. We argue that an entrepreneur uses his/her social capital for both business and private purposes. This holds especially for entrepreneurs whose firm is located in or in close proximity to the home, as at the neighbourhood level their private and business activities are often strongly mixed. As such, we contribute to the literature as we focus on role overlap and the importance of the local level in social networks of entrepreneurs. In addition, we contribute by employing a longitudinal perspective on entrepreneurial networks as we analyse whether and to what extent the social networks of entrepreneurs have changed over a five-year period (i.e. between 2008 and 2013). We do so by exploring both network size change and network composition change. Network composition is analysed on three dimensions: (1) family versus non-family network contacts; (2) local versus non-local network contacts; and (3) overlap between business-related and private-related network contacts. We use data from two waves (2008 and 2013) of The Survey on the Social Networks of Entrepreneurs (SSNE1 and SSNE2), resulting in a panel of 214 Dutch entrepreneurs, located in 161 residential neighbourhoods of 40 Dutch municipalities. We found that, on average, the network size increased significantly from 3.79 in 2008 to around 4 network contacts in 2013. Also, the results show that local network contacts become more important over time, whereas no significant changes in family contacts are found. There is evidence of role overlap: the help of one network contact on average is asked for both private and business purposes. Furthermore, we explored the association of network change with different entrepreneur characteristics.