Reaching and Acquiring Valuable Resources: The Entrepreneur's Use of Brokerage, Cohesion, and Embeddedness


  • We thank our editor Andreas Rauch and two anonymous reviewers for their invaluable guidance during the review process. We also thank Nicole Coviello, Waverly Ding, Benson Honig, Byungchae Jin, Moren Levesque, Matts Lingsblad, Louise Mors, J. Peter Murmann, and Tyge Payne for their helpful comments on the earlier versions of this manuscript. An earlier version of this paper won the Strategic Management stream's Best Paper Award in the 2011 ANZAM Conference. This paper has been supported in part by an internal faculty research grant at Australian School of Business.


Entrepreneurs have two key aims in managing their ego-networks: extending reach to valuable resources and facilitating resource acquisition. This study provides a synthesis of the brokerage, cohesion, and embeddedness literatures to develop and present a multilevel theoretical framework and analytical model that treat both aims jointly. It makes three contributions. First, it highlights a trade-off that entrepreneurs face in allocating their available networking time and energy while pursuing these two aims. Second, it explores the central role of two types of embeddedness—relational and structural—in resolving this trade-off. Third, it helps entrepreneurs decide when to embed a particular dyadic connection relationally or structurally. We show that entrepreneurs can better balance their dual aim by structurally embedding some ties rather than trying to relationally embed all. The resultant network is one that meshes characteristics of brokerage and cohesive ego-network structures.