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Women Entrepreneurs Across Racial Lines

Issues of Human Capital, Financial Capital and Network Structures

Andrea E. Smith-Hunter

Women entrepreneurs command an increasingly large presence at the international and national levels. A significant part of this impact is due to growing numbers of minority women becoming entrepreneurs. This volume provides some of the most comprehensive data to date on the topic of women entrepreneurs across racial lines. It offers a systematic and conceptual framework for understanding issues of network structures and human and financial capital, analyzed through a comparative analysis of minority and white women entrepreneurs.
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Chapter 6: Network Structure Issues

Andrea E. Smith-Hunter


Introduction The profile of an entrepreneur’s network structure has been exalted and vilified as the key component that serves to heighten their human capital potential and to positively impact their entrepreneurial success. Network structure, or social capital as it has been termed in the sociology literature, is often portrayed as the ‘hidden hand’ (Hogan, 2001) impacting an entrepreneur’s access to resources, whether financial or otherwise, and serves as a positive influence in the sphere of business ownership (Easter, 1996; Aldrich et al., 1985; Coughlin and Thomas, 2002). This ‘hidden’ influence is said to be critical to the entrepreneur’s success, since it assists with the development of one’s human capital potential and one’s access to financial resources, whether directly or indirectly through network links with others. While a number of factors, namely: family, friends, religious and work affiliations, banks, lending agencies, government agencies, family, friends and associates, are said to provide role models, training experiences, advice, financial support, source of labor, clientele, business advice and possible access to contracts to improve market share (Fratoe, 1986; Molm et al., 2001; Weiss, 1990), it would be an astronomical task to detail all the variables and related factors. A few of these elements have been presented as critical dimensions of an entrepreneur’s network structure in the current study, which sought to emphasize a sector of this kaleidoscope of what impacts on an entrepreneur’s success. The specific dimensions looked at in this study include: the assistance received from family and friends when starting the business;...

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