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Marianne de Beer and Veronique Schutjens

This chapter’s focus is on inter-firm networks of entrepreneurs located in residential neighbourhoods in the Netherlands and, in particular, on the importance of local inter-firm cooperation contacts and changes therein over time. If local inter-firm cooperation networks exist and become more important over time, the neighbourhood economic tissue might be strengthened and eventually benefit both incumbent firms and new entrepreneurial activities. Based on previous literature, we differentiate in our analysis between a number of characteristics, for example, firm age, firm home-basedness and firm local market orientation. Two waves of The Survey on the Social Networks of Entrepreneurs (in 2008 and 2014) provided us with a panel of 197 entrepreneurs active in over 140 residential neighbourhoods in 40 Dutch municipalities. For both years, the entrepreneurs mention one cooperation contact on average, and for local contacts this average is even lower. Therefore, we conclude that neither local cooperation nor cooperation in general is a common strategy. Using ordered logistic regression models, we found that over time, the average number and importance of local cooperation contacts hardly changed, although it did increase significantly for home-based firms, whereas it decreased for young firms. However, these findings disguise substantial turbulence in cooperation contacts at the individual (entrepreneurial) level. Between 2008 and 2014, almost 90 per cent of both total and local cooperation contacts were replaced by other contacts, emphasizing the ‘temporary coalition’ character of small neighbourhood firms’ cooperation strategies.

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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.