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    Special issue IMM

    Start-ups and business networks – an interactive view on new ventures

    Deadline for submission, December 1, 2015

    Guest editors: Enrico Baraldi (Uppsala University), Malena Ingemansson Havenvid (NTNU), Åse Linné (Uppsala University) and Christina Öberg (Örebro University)


    From the view that start-ups have an important part to play in the generation of innovation and economic growth, many scholars have shown interest in the investigation of how new ventures emerge and develop over time (Shane & Venkataraman, 2000; Ciabuschi, Perna & Snehota, 2012). A start-up can be a new venture emerging from an established firm, from academic research, or independently from these. One common research theme is how start-ups should be organized to overcome their liabilities of newness and lack of key resources such as knowledge, finance and customers (Lee et al., 2001). However, while much research is devoted to identifying essential mechanisms and resources that need to be in place within and/or “around” the organization, less attention is paid to the interaction processes taking place between the new venture and the surrounding network of essential actors. Depending on the type of start-up, these actors can be incubators, suppliers, customers, financiers, policy-makers, etc. It is these very interaction processes that allow the new venture to access crucial resources to develop as a business, to form business relationships and to become part of established business networks. However, the necessity for the new venture to interact with others in order to develop also means that such processes (or lack thereof) can act as a hindering force. Therefore, the overall question of how these interaction processes drive and hinder the new venture to become embedded in business networks is the starting point of this special issue.

    Earlier studies of business development in business-to-business environments show that firms commonly engage in a set of long-term and interactive business relationships as a way to improve their operations across firm boundaries (Håkansson, 1982). It has also been demonstrated that business relationships often are directly or indirectly interconnected to other business relationships, and as such embed a firm into a network of interdependent business relationships (Håkansson & Snehota, 1995; Araujo, Dubois & Gadde, 2003; Ford, Gadde, Håkansson & Snehota, 2003). Start-ups on the other hand have no established relationships or position in the relevant business network. This has two important implications. Firstly, start-ups and their products/services as well as their operations have to find often complex ways in order to fit into existing business networks consisting of established activity and resource structures (Håkansson & Waluszewski, 2002). Secondly, star-ups also have to be able to influence the network, or parts of it, enough to establish a position, such as creating relationships with both customers and suppliers (Aaboen, Dubois & Lind, 2013; La Rocca, Ford & Snehota, 2013). Thus, the practices of interacting with other actors in the business network are a crucial part of initiating and developing the start-up (La Rocca & Snehota, 2014). It is these practices and the consequences of such practices that are in focus in this special issue.

    A network perspective on start-ups is otherwise commonly interpreted as an analysis of the entrepreneur’s personal network (e.g., Stam, Arzlanian & Elfring, 2014; Elfring & Hulsink, 2007), and hence uses the individual and his/her personal bonds as the key unit of analysis, especially focusing on the entrepreneur’s social capital (often as opposed to human capital) as an antecedent of the new venture’s development (Anderson & Jack, 2002). There is instead a lack of studies (see e.g., Ciabuschi, Perna & Snehota, 2012) targeting the start-up as an organizational unit that becomes embedded in a business network, characterized not only by the entrepreneur’s personal bonds, but also by an emerging set of interdependencies with other specific organizations, both within and outside the entrepreneur’s personal network. From this perspective, the interdependencies accompanying the embedding of the start-up are of both technical and organizational types (Håkansson & Waluszewski, 2002), rather than just social. Technical and organizational interdependencies are multidimensional in how they create economic effects and thus entail both opportunities and challenges for new ventures. Recognizing these interdependencies open ups for a variety of studies related to start-ups. With the main purpose of increasing our understanding of how these types of network interdependencies influence start-ups, and how start-ups in turn try to manage in business networks, this special issue aims to produce both theoretical and managerial implications.

    With this purpose in mind, we welcome case studies, surveys, literature reviews and conceptual papers that targets one or several of the following themes along with suggested examples (although authors should not feel restricted to only these):

    • Technological and organizational interdependencies driving/hindering the development of new ventures

    Example 1: Commercialization as embedding of a start-up, i.e. building a network around a new technology/product, while also doing it around a new venture.

    Example 2: The network-embedding of start-ups as a process of combining technical and organizational resources.

    • How new ventures try to manage in networks or are affected by the network

    Example 1: Strategizing and network positioning of newly started companies.

    Example 2: Liabilities of newness and of smallness as viewed from a network perspective.

    Example 3: Trust building and reputational issues of newly started companies as viewed from a network perspective.

    • How new business relationships are initiated and developed

    Example 1: Possibilities and challenges in turning initial personal bonds into supplier-customer relationships by start-ups.

    Example 2: The role of key initial relationships in orienting the development of start-ups.

    • How the history and the context of origin of the new venture (e.g. independent start-up or spin-off from established firm, academic research etc.) affect its development

    Example 1: How start-ups create new networks (confronting the existing structures), as opposed to adapting to existing networks (conforming to the existing structures).

    Example 2: University spin-offs and the particular challenges in building relationships in an industrial network, as opposed to an academic network.

    • How different types of actors in the relevant business network influence the new venture (financiers, policy-makers, universities, suppliers, customers, competitors etc.)

    Example 1: Venture capitalists’ and other financiers’ role in the network-embedding of start-up companies.

    Example 2: How established companies (suppliers, customers and competitors) in a network react to the formation and (attempts to) embedding of a start-up.

    • Policy implications for supporting and stimulating the creation and development of new ventures when considering the role of the business network

    Example 1: How do regional development policies consider the network-level interdependencies emerging around a start-up? What is the impact of these interdependencies on local employment?

    Example 2: Which policy measures can favor the embedding of start-ups in the surrounding network?

    Example 3: How can business incubators support the network-embedding of start-ups?

    Submission Procedures

    The submission site for this special issue will open on November 1, 2015 and will be available until the deadline of December 1, 2015. All submissions will be through the journal’s editorial web site: Please go to the site, register as an author and submit the paper as the site will instruct you. During the submission process you will be asked to indicate the type of manuscript via a drop down selection. Choose SI: Start-ups and business networks as the type of manuscript.

    Editorial Team

    The Guest Editors for this issue are:

    Enrico Baraldi

    Division of Industrial Engineering and Management (Engineering Sciences)

    Uppsala University


    Telephone: +46 18 471 31 92

    Malena Ingemansson Havenvid

    Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management

    NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology


    Telephone: +47 935 93 176

    Åse Linné

    Division of Industrial Engineering and Management (Engineering Sciences)

    Uppsala University


    Telephone: +46 18 471 72 66

    Christina Öberg

    School of Business

    Örebro University


    Telephone: +46 19 30 1480

    Feel free to contact any of the Guest Editors with questions about this special issue.


    Aaboen, L., Dubois, A., Lind, F. 2013. Strategizing as Networking for New Ventures, Industrial Marketing Management, 42(7), 1033-1041.

    Anderson, A.R. and Jack, S.L. 2002. The Articulation of Social Capital: A Glue or a Lubricant? Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 14(3), 193-210.

    Araujo, L., Dubois, A., Gadde, L-E. 2003. The Multiple Boundaries of the Firm, Journal of Management Studies, 40(5), 1255-1277.

    Ciabuschi, F., Perna, A. & Snehota, I. 2012. Assembling Resources in the Formation of a New Business. Journal of Business Research, 65(2), 220-229.

    Elfring, T., Hulsink, W. 2007. Networking by entrepreneurs: Patterns of tie-formation in emerging organizations, Organization Studies, 28(12): 1849-1872.

    Ford, D., Gadde, L-E., Håkansson, H., Snehota, I. 2003 Managing Business Relationships (2nd edition), Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

    Håkansson, H., ed. (1982) International Marketing and Purchasing of Industrial Goods: An Interaction Approach, New York: John Wiley & Sons.

    Håkansson, H. & Snehota, I. 1995. Developing Relationships in Business Networks, London: Routledge.

    Håkansson, H. & Waluszewski, A. 2002. Managing Technological Development, London: Routledge.

    La Rocca, A., Ford, D., & Snehota, I. 2013. Initial relationship development in new business ventures. Industrial Marketing Management, 42(7), 1025-1032.

    La Rocca, A., & Snehota, I. 2014. Relating in Business Networks: Innovation in practice. Industrial Marketing Management, 43(3), 441-447.

    Lee, C., K. Lee, & Pennings, J.M. 2001. Internal Capabilities, External Networks, and Performance: A Study of Technology- Based Ventures. Strategic Management Journal 22, 615–640.

    Shane,S. & Venkataraman, S. 2000. The promise of entrepreneurship as a field of research. Academy of Management Review, 25(1), 217–26.

    Stam, W., Arzlanian, S., Elfring, T. 2014. Social capital of entrepreneurs and small firm performance: A meta-analysis of contextual and methodological moderators, Journal of Business Venturing, 29(1), 152-173.

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