Fitting networking behaviour to venture maturity: A contingency perspective on entrepreneurs’ network agency

Daniel Andreas Fritz Scholz

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis builds on the existing work on entrepreneurial network agency (Gulati & Srivastava, 2014; Vissa, 2012) and enhances the previous studies by providing evidence for a contingency argument, proposing that entrepreneurial networking behavior should be fitted to the venture’s maturity level to generate the most new business contacts. Specifically, it is proposed that the effect of the level of entrepreneurs’ reliance on referrals, i.e. the extent to which an entrepreneur relies on introductions from existing contacts to generate new ones, on the creation of new business contacts is moderated by the maturity of the focal venture. Putting forward a fit argument, it is asserted that founders of immature businesses will be more successful in the creation of new business contacts by relying less on referrals than their counterparts in mature ventures, who are proposed to benefit from such a reliance. To test the hypotheses of this research, a quantitative study including 84 entrepreneurs was conducted. To enhance the discussion of this quantitative study, four qualitative interviews were conducted with entrepreneurs, generating insights into the behavioral and motivational reasons for entrepreneurial networking behavior. The results of the quantitative study provide evidence for the proposed moderation effect. However, the findings of this research also reveal that entrepreneurs do not consistently fit their networking behavior to the maturity of their venture. While first indications about the reasons of this partly miss-fitted behavior are provided in this thesis, future research is needed to further investigate the underlying reasons for exhibited entrepreneurial agency.

EducationsMSc in Finance and Strategic Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages91