Entrepreneurs' Networking Styles and Normative Underpinnings during Institutional transition

Chenjian Zhang, Tao Wang, David Ahlstrom

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Existing network research has mainly adopted functional and/or structural approaches to study the instrumental goals behind entrepreneurs’ networking as well as the influence of personal position on access to resources and eventual performance. The variety of entrepreneurs’ networking styles and their normative underpinnings have not been adequately explored. Contextualized in China, this study asks: How do entrepreneurs’ understandings of social norms shape their networking styles? Through an inductive comparison of two entrepreneur generations in China, we identify three networking styles: guanxi-oriented networking, market-based networking, and mixed networking. We theorize that three types of norms shape these styles: market-inferred norms, dyadically formed norms, and identity-induced norms. This study provides new insights into the understanding of Chinese entrepreneurs’ distinctive networking styles and their normative underpinnings. Further, it suggests implications both for the wider study of entrepreneurs’ networking behaviors in transition economies, and for practitioners wishing to enhance their network building in China.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEntrepreneurship Research Journal
Early online date7 Jan 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jan 2022


  • Chinese entrepreneurs
  • guanxi
  • institutional transition
  • networking
  • norms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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