The effect of networks on the entrepreneurial process of legitimacy building: A multiple case study on the example of entrepreneurs operating within the Danish fashion industry

Maria Kjeldgård Bloch-Jørgensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The aim of the thesis is to uncover and explore how networks affect entrepreneurial firms’ processes of legitimacy building. Legitimacy represents one type of resource, which by researchers is found to play a vital role for overcoming the viability of smallness and newness. Nevertheless despite its apparent relevance, legitimacy building as a concept has remained an under studied research area within the context of networks and entrepreneurship. With this as a motivating factor, the current study seeks to fill this gap and make the first step towards examining the effect of networks in an entrepreneurial legitimacy building context. For providing insights into the effect of networks on the legitimacy building process of entrepreneurs the study investigates the phenomenon on a dyadic level in the light of entrepreneurs operating within the Danish fashion industry. This selective choice is based on the great challenges entrepreneurs from the Danish fashion industry face in having to balance art with business while facing the liability of both smallness and newness. By applying qualitative research methods in the form of an exploratory multiple case study, the thesis thus seeks to shed light on legitimacy building in the context of entrepreneurs from the Danish fashion industry. In building a conceptual framework based on prior theory regarding networks, entrepreneurship and legitimacy; the study develops a framework which advocates the adoption of a process and outcome oriented perspective. Thus the thesis’ conceptual framework captures the dimension of entrepreneurship consisting of a process of opportunity discovery, evaluation and exploitation from where diverse types of resources and legitimacy can be identified. Within this perspective the study takes into consideration that different types of network ties (strong, weak and indirect ties) may affect the legitimacy building process differently within each phase. The findings from the multiple case study point towards the importance of particularly strong and indirect ties for the entrepreneurial process of legitimacy building. In applying a process oriented perspective the study also demonstrates how network ties in general appear to bear increasing importance as the entrepreneurial process progresses. With prior research studies mainly focusing on the strength of weak ties, these findings bring forward new insights to the potential strengths residing within strong ties in relation to legitimacy building. For future research, these findings suggest the development of more detailed process and outcome oriented studies of strong-tie relationships, which can broaden our knowledge of the nature and content of strong ties.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages239