The moderating roles of managerial discretion and absorptive capacity in the relationship between entrepreneurial social networks' structural holes and new venture revenue growth in China

  • Yi WANG

    Student thesis: PhD Thesis


    In a new venture context and at the firm level, this doctoral thesis aims to investigate the moderating effect of two constructs, entrepreneurial managerial discretion and organizational absorptive capacity, to the potentially contingent relationship between entrepreneurs’ social network structural holes and new ventures’ financial performance (specifically their revenue growths). For that, it comprises of two separated but connected studies, including a quantitative study (Study 1) and a qualitative case study (Study 2). Study 1 (Chapter 4) integrates the perspective of social network structural holes and that of managerial discretion. It is proposed that the positive association between entrepreneurial social network structural holes and their new venture revenue growth is enhanced when CEOs have greater discretion. Results of survey data from 357 Chinese local entrepreneurial new ventures show that the positive association of social network and venture revenue growth is strengthened when the market is munificent, when new ventures devote a greater extent on R&D and advertising, as well as when entrepreneurial CEOs chair their board. On basis of preliminary quantitative analyses (see Appendix D) that shows the contingent value of entrepreneurial social network structural holes also relying upon organizational absorptive capacity, Study 2 aims to unfold the ‘black box’ of the mechanism behind such network-capability interaction. Employing a unique action research method and exploring the case of author’s own venture, Study 2 (Chapter 5) aims to explore how a start-up venture’s absorptive capacity co-develops with expansion of its entrepreneurial network brokerage. By separating a knowledge flow and a resource flow, the study identifies four aggregated processes (accessing, realizing, reconfiguring and expanding) and eight subprocesses (acquiring, assimilating, transforming, exploiting, aligning, recognizing, search and brokering) that enable entrepreneurs to symbiotically cultivate firm-level absorptive capacity and span network brokerage. In particular, entrepreneurs start their project from initial network cocoon, and go through these subprocesses iteratively. In every iteration, their network is spanned twice and venture’s absorptive capacity is enhanced once. Besides, the thesis entails a General Literature Review chapter (Chapter 2) and a Methodology chapter (Chapter 3). In the end, not only does this doctoral thesis contribute to relevant theoretical perspectives, but also it draws empirical and practical implications from each study (see Chapter 6 as summary).
    Date of Award8 Nov 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Univerisity of Nottingham
    SupervisorMartin Lockett (Supervisor), Xiaodan Yu (Supervisor) & Bat Batjargal (Supervisor)


    • Social network structural holes
    • absorptive capacity
    • managerial discretion
    • new venture growth
    • quantitative analyses
    • case study
    • action research
    • China

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