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The Personal Networks of Entrepreneurs in an Informal African Urban Economy: Does the ‘Strength of Ties’ Matter?

Jean-Philippe Berrou and François Combarnous ()

Review of Social Economy, 2012, vol. 70, issue 1, 1-30

Abstract: This paper investigates Granovetter's “strength of weak ties” hypothesis in an informal African urban economy. It outlines an approach articulated around the reticular embeddedness conceptual framework associated with the notion of “ego-centred network.” The content of ties in an entrepreneur's network is described by three salient dimensions: strength, social role and exchanged resources. We use an original dataset collected in the informal economy of Bobo-Dioulasso (Burkina Faso) to evaluate how the content and strength of ties influence entrepreneurs' economic outcomes. The instrument of multiple name generators provides a vast amount of information that can be used to compute quantitative measures of the composition of networks. We show that both strength of ties and proportion of business ties have a significant positive impact on economic outcomes. It reveals the importance for small urban informal entrepreneurs to draw on both embedded social relations and more autonomous ones.

Date: 2012
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Working Paper: The personal networks of entrepreneurs in an informal African urban economy: does the "strength of ties" matter? (2012)
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DOI: 10.1080/00346764.2011.577347

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