Topic: The emphasis on the relationship between actors has been invoked as the key basis of the organizational social network research. Even if over time a structuralist and macro-level prospective has prevailed in the field (Mayhew, 1980), in recent years regular calls has underlined the necessity of not ignoring the microfoundations of social networks, which could explain significantly how networks are shaped and the impact they have on the relationships embedded in them. It is interesting to notice that, traditionally, social network research has collected data and analyzed phenomena under the assumption that individuals’ self-reports of their social interactions were describing exactly the relationships that were in action, without querying if self-reports are a reasonable proxy for individuals’ actual behaviors. The literature on Cognitive Social Structures has addressed this point (Kilduff, Crossland, Tsai, and Krackhardt, 2008), stating that the differences between the perceptions of one individual’s network and the actual behavioural one has become a question of interest on its own. However, this branch of research is still relatively small and fragmented (Brands, 2013) and has focused primarily on relationships of friendship or between colleagues, neglecting other relevant settings, such as the ego network of entrepreneurs. Moreover, the existence of a difference between perceived and behavioural social networks opens new not investigated questions which refer to the directions of this difference. As cognitive biases affect personal outcomes (such as reputation and opportunity of action), and organizational outcomes (such as turnover, decision making and work performance) (Tasselli, Kilduff and Menges, 2015), the difference between the two types of networks could have a relevant impact on entrepreneurs, whose individual network can be considered a factor of success (Aldrich, 1989), enabling the access to different resources or benefits. The use of ego-network ties has been highlighted as a way to enter heterogeneous knowledge, diverse know-how and perspectives. This may help nurture and sustain the entrepreneurial activity, both by improving opportunity recognition and raising the creative potential (Rodan and Galunic, 2004). Thomas and Thomas (1928: 572) stated that “if people define situations as real, they are real in their consequences”. The cognitive biases influencing the entrepreneurs’ ego-network for innovation may affect the way entrepreneurs mobilize the right people and the resources available through his/her ties, both during the management of the innovation process and in the development of a novel innovation. Moreover it could have consequences in the recognition and eventual reward of the people who played a role in the innovation process. Aim: The aim of the paper is to investigate the features of the difference between perceived and behavioural ego network, applying this concept to the ego network of entrepreneurs, examining the relations that are used by entrepreneurs in order to pursue innovation. Our research seeks to answer the following question: what are the directions of the difference between the entrepreneurs’ perceived and behavioural ego network for innovation? Methodology: We considered different attributes of the entrepreneur’s ego network related to the number, type and strength of the links he/she perceived or used in innovation processes, carrying out a study on 39 Italian companies which belong to different sectors and have demonstrated to be resilient to the economic crisis thanks to their innovative capacity. We took into account the total number of ties, the percentage of long-term relationships, the percentage of actors belonging to the same sector of the entrepreneurial activity and the percentage of family ties. In order to represent the perceived and behavioural networks for innovation of entrepreneurs we administrated a semi-structured interview to the entrepreneurs included in our sample. As for the perceived network, we utilized a traditional self-report measure asking the entrepreneurs the most relevant nodes they relied on to generate and implement innovation. Concerning the real behavioural network, we administrated a semi-structured interview, namely the Behavioural Events Interview (Boyatzis, 1998; McClelland, 1998), which is focused on gathering information on recent and specific events and has been widely used to obtain rich and detailed information on the behaviours and strategies adopted by the interviewee, and to structure qualitative data (Chell, 2004; Campion et al, 2011). All interviews were transcribed verbatim and codified according to the type and characteristics of the tie. Contribution: A primary contribution of our work is to provide an empirical application of the Cognitive Social Structure theory in a different and relevant setting. In our study we take into account a complex and interesting phenomenon such as the involvement of the entrepreneurial network in the generation and implementation of innovation, this setting includes a variety of actors and also considers links which go beyond the traditional boundaries of the organization. This research adds to the literature on CSS by exploring what kind of differences we should expect between the behavioural network used by entrepreneurs to generate innovation and their perceived network. Some managerial implications can be drawn. Because of their cognitive social structures, entrepreneurs may be not able to cognitively represent the group of people that actually helped them in the development of innovative ideas, which affects their ability to mobilize over time the right and useful links for innovation. In analyzing perceived networks we help to uncover the way by which entrepreneurs think about the external resources that they benefit from and may use over time in pursuing innovation. Thus, it is important to highlight what directions entrepreneurs follow in their cognitive representation of the network and to make them aware of the differences which characterize their perception.
|Titolo:||The difference between the entrepreneurs' perceived and behavioural ego network for innovation|
|Autori interni:||CORTELLAZZO, LAURA|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2016|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||4.1 Articolo in Atti di convegno|
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