Network Strategies of Small Chinese High-Technology Firms: A Qualitative Study

Authors


Address correspondence to: Wai-sum Siu, Department of Marketing, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China. Tel.: (852) 34117532. Fax: (852) 34115586. E-mail: wssiu@hkbu.edu.hk.

Abstract

This article is an investigation of the entrepreneurial network and its strategic implications in a Chinese sociocultural context. It identifies four separate but highly interrelated network dimensions (relationship, governance, structure, and dynamic); it also highlights an important research gap. Entrepreneurs of 12 small Chinese high-technology firms in Beijing and Shenzhen were interviewed. The interview scripts were analyzed by data reduction. Concepts related to entrepreneurial network strategies of small Chinese high-technology firms were gradually condensed. Categorical principal component analysis (CATPCA) in SPSS for Windows 12.0 software was applied to group the cases, which in turn confirmed the qualitative data analysis results. A tentative schema is proposed, illustrating four types of entrepreneurial networkers according to network adaptation and external resource dependence. Network adaptation is based on the differentiation of the entrepreneurial efforts in network construction and change: integrative adaptation, cooperation, and coordination. External resource dependence indicates to what extent the entrepreneur relies on external resources—that is, placing emphasis on using external resources or maintaining a balance between internal and external resources. The reliance on external resources is highly related to two factors: the nature of relationship and the extent of commitment. In a transaction-based, relationship-dominated network, if the entrepreneur decides to develop his or her own resource competitiveness he or she will rely less on external resources. In a collaboration-based, relationship-dominated network, if the entrepreneur tends to have a low commitment to maintaining the relationship, he or she will depend little on external resources. Customer-oriented networkers value interpersonal relations and strive to establish long-term customer relationships. Partnership networkers form strategic alliance with suppliers, manufacturers, and subcontractors to access external resources. Value-oriented networkers have a holistic view of networks and play an active role in network construction and development. Prospecting networkers make a strong commitment to network actors to exploit external resources and to make proactive moves to adapt to environmental changes.

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