Business Success Through Social Networks? A Comment on Social Networks and Business Success


  • Henrik Egbert

    1. Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Germany
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      Henrik Egbert lectures at Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Germany; e-mail: He studied economics at the Freie Universität Berlin and Bayreuth University and has been lecturing at several German universities as well as at Sofia University, Bulgaria. In 1997, he conducted field research for his dissertation on social networks of entrepreneurs in Tanzania (published 2001 as Netzwerke als unternehmerische Ressourcen und Restriktionen[Berlin: Verlag für Wissenschaft und Forschung]). His interests include private entrepreneurs in economies in transition, social networks, and markets. In 2006, he published “Cross-Border Small-Scale Trading in South-Eastern Europe: Do Embeddedness and Social Capital Explain Enough?”International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 30(2): 346–361.


In the literature on entrepreneurship in developing countries, the argument that social networks are an essential factor for entrepreneurial success has been given considerable attention. This article challenges this one-sided view by pointing out negative and restrictive effects of social networks on entrepreneurial success in particular, and on economic development in general. The article is structured as a comment on Kristiansen (2004), who worked on social networks and conducted field research in the city of Tanga, Tanzania, similar to the author, who had done the same two years previously. The findings from a six-month field research are used in order to articulate important aspects left out in Kristiansen's discussion.