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To add to Ezra Zuckerman's information, I conducted a study on small firms
egocentric networks in the building industry in France for my PhD « Networks
and business : Performance and social capital of small firms in the building
industry ». A sample of 150 business owners were interviewed. I think this
choice of field, the same as that of E. Zuckerman (construction / home
remodeling), is not a coincidence: small business networks - either formal
or informal - are widespread in this industry. Remember Eccles seminal
article on Quasifirms.

Two issues are dealt with in my study: the contingent value of social
capital of entrepreneurs in the building industry and their access to
business. Thanks to a structural approach combined with strategic analysis
and a sociotechnical perspective, it provides a better understanding of the
mechanisms of social capital, social structures of markets and collective
action of interdependant entrepreneurs. My main result is that the value of
social capital (in particular structural holes vs network closure) depends
on the position in the construction process and on the variability of the

Interfirm relationships appear to play a big role in the regulation of such
production markets as well as in performance: 40% of a building industry
entrepreneur's most important business relations are to other small firms. I
differenciate between two performance measurements : profitability and
productivity. Relations between small firms have a straightforward impact
upon productivity. But more interestingly : this impact varies according to
the nature of firm activity. For instance, specialized firms benefit most
from relations with their peers, whereas such relations are detrimental to
those positionned upstream.


Catherine Comet
Clersé - CNRS
Institute of Sociology
59655 Villeneuve d'Ascq cedex

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ezra Zuckerman" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, February 17, 2005 7:58 PM
Subject: Re: Networks of Small Businesses

> *****  To join INSNA, visit  *****
> Celina:
> You might find my work with Stoyan Sgourev
> ( on industry peer
> networks (and parallel relationships more generally) to be relevant.
> other things, it includes the only survey data of which I am aware that
> describes the membership of firm egocentric network in an industry.  And
> these are all small firms, as are (typically) members of industry peer
> networks more generally.
> Cheers,
> Ezra W. Zuckerman
> MIT Sloan School of Management
> 50 Memorial Drive, E52-564
> Cambridge MA 02142
> [log in to unmask]
> Tel: 617-253-1918
> Fax: 617-253-2660
> *-----Original Message-----
> *From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
> *Behalf Of celinabasto
> *Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 10:01 AM
> *To: [log in to unmask]
> *Subject: Networks of Small Businesses
> *
> ******  To join INSNA, visit  *****
> *
> *Hi Steve! Hi Everybody!
> *
> *Is anyone working with small businesses networks?
> *
> *Brazilian government has defined clusters of small businesses as a
> *of development. As far as I have observed lots of efforts are
> *in local infrastructure (Marshallian Industrial Districts) and very
> *is done about networks.
> *
> *Informations on the subject will be welcomed.
> *
> *"Abraços" from Brazil,
> *
> *Celina
> *

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