Internal Social Network Ties & Entrepreneurial Team Performance: Role of Teamwork in Technology-Based Ventures in India.

AuthorGupta, Hemanidhi


As per the NASSCOM Indian Tech Start-up Survey (2020), there has been an exponential growth in India's technology ventures. Around 4300 TBV started in 2015, which rose to 5000-5300 in 2016, 6500 in 2018, 9200 in 2019, and about 11000 new TBV in 2020. Interestingly, around 89 percent of funded TBV were team-based ventures in 2019 (Innoven Capital Report, 2019). There is an increased need for entrepreneurial teams in TBV in India due to its emerging demand in different sectors. Still, surprisingly, these entrepreneurial collaborations are rarely tested in India (Meil & Salzman, 2017).

Entrepreneurs utilize micro (entrepreneur's characteristics and personality) as well as macro factors (funding sources, economic indicators, infrastructure availability, industrial environment and government policies) to explore emerging technological opportunities (Joshi & Satyanarayana, 2014). During this process, if the complexities of business need a collection of technical and other business expertise, challenges to own by a solo entrepreneur, the entrepreneurial team becomes apparent in TBV (Chowdhury, 2005). Moreover, in the entrepreneurial team formation of TBV, the addition and deduction of the team members occur at both nascent stages and later growth phases (Lazar et al., 2020). So, the networks within entrepreneurial team members also grow, develop and change. (Arenius & Laitinen, 2011). Nascent entrepreneurial teams usually form through network ties as they assist in recognizing business opportunities and gaining both social and human capital.

However, the recent systematic literature review studies on entrepreneurial teams have observed that the relationship between network ties and entrepreneurial teams' outcomes has not been adequately addressed in the extant literature (Das et al., 2021; Bolzani et al., 2019). Prior studies have limited themselves to examining internal network ties' strength, i.e., strong and weak ties to form entrepreneurial teams in different settings (Aldrich & Kim, 2007; Ruef et al., 2003). Moreover, Vissa & Chacar (2009) investigated how internal dynamics within an entrepreneurial team impacts external networks of the entrepreneurial team. Bhagavatula et al. (2010) examined the role of networks on venture performance and suggested that network ties alone might not impact team outcomes. Some intervening variables could also contribute to entrepreneurial team performance. When an entrepreneurial team is formed via internal network ties, the information and resource exchange become dominant for team outcomes. Scholars suggest that the multiple dimensions of teamwork, i.e., communication, coordination, mutual support, cohesion, efforts, and balance of contribution, broadly cover the team members' interactions (Hoegl & Gemuenden, 2001 ; Lechler, 2001). These social interactions between entrepreneurs are contingent upon strong and weak ties in the entrepreneurial team, which subsidize their team outcomes.

Due to the limited studies, the scholars have shown considerable interest in exploring internal network ties' impact on entrepreneurial team outcomes of TBV (Zhou & Rosini, 2015; Klotz et al., 2014). Thus, the present study explores how internal network ties impact entrepreneurial team outcomes of technology-based ventures. In this process, the present research theorizes about the mediating effects of multiple dimensions of teamwork on internal network ties impacting entrepreneurial team performance. Consequently, various significant theoretical and practical implications for improving the team performance of TBV are presented in this study.

Review of Literature

Internal Network Ties: The recent and varied research on social networks has rationalized the present concepts of social network theory in entrepreneurial team's context (Nanda &Sorensen, 2010). These studies observed that nascent entrepreneurial team members of TBV are active networkers. The social capital assesses meaningful information, knowledge, funding and other crucial resources through networks rich in structural holes. The entrepreneurial team either considers the individuals' complementary skills required for managing the complexity of TBV or the set of individuals providing social and emotional support to the team members (Soetanto, 2017). Scholars suggest that entrepreneurial teams in TBV are more likely to have strong ties (Ruef et al., 2003) as they result in the diffusion of social information and increase social influence within the team (Granovetter, 1983). These ties make the team's internal environment more expressive, trustworthy, and willing to work for the venture. However, there is also a burden of maintaining the relationship in strong ties, which distracts team members' attention in the venture and affects their performance (Balkundi & Harrison, 2006).

Alternatively, if technical expertise is the venture's primary requirement that existing team members do not fulfil, collaboration through weak ties is generally considered in technology ventures (Aldrich & Kim, 2007). The weak ties provide instrumental/task-oriented strength in the network that better reaches the outside source of information through bridging ties between different network clusters (Granovetter, 1983). Entrepreneurial team members in such a network work independently to achieve the common goals of venture success (Schjoedt & Kraus, 2009). But then again, the strength of weak ties lies in their ability to develop bridging ties with others instead of the number of connections they have. The contradictory observations and limited literature on the strength of strong and weak ties on the entrepreneurial team of TBV make it necessary to investigate it more precisely. Hence, we hypothesize that:

H1a: High strong ties' strength in the entrepreneurial teams of TBV significantly impacts their team performance.

H1b: High weak ties' strength in the entrepreneurial teams of TBV significantly impacts their team performance.

Strength of Internal Network Ties and Teamwork Quality: Prior studies observed teamwork quality as an inclusive concept of the level of interactions in teams (Brinckmann & Hoegl, 2011). The multiple essential dimensions of social interactions in entrepreneurial teams include (1) Communication- which includes frequency, intensity, sharing of ideas, information and opinions among entrepreneurial team members; (2) Coordination- which comprises specificity, well-coordination, adjustments in the entrepreneurial team; (3) Cohesion- that encompasses the desire of entrepreneurial team members to remain in the team; (4) Efforts- represents the effort of the entrepreneurial team member which are crucial for team success and (5) Mutual support for each other, broadly covered by teamwork quality (Lechler, 2001). High teamwork quality in a team creates openness in sharing relevant and valuable information. They coordinate their activities together; mutually support each other...

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