Sustainability in Business Networks : From a Ledadership Perspective
Abstract: Business networks exist in many different situations the question of interest is; what makes these networks sustainable over a long period of time? This is a multiple case study with four network projects from the Swedish rural area of Storsjöbygden in Jämtland. The Swedish rural areas consist of a strong majority of micro companies and small companies. To develop some of these areas the European Rural Development Program, LEADER helps funding projects for entrepreneurs and organisations with good ideas for development, education and cooperation activities. This paper investigates four LEADER funded projects with a focus on business cooperation and networking. The projects were done between years 1995 and 2000. Some of the networks are still active today and others are not. The aim here is to see if the three factors during the start up of the networks; natural and spontaneous relationships, project leader’s attitude and the number of participants, have an impact on the long term sustainability of these networks. The empirical findings lead to the following conclusions; within the relationship factor time and attitude variables had an increased effect on the survival of the networks. The project leader’s knowledge, attitude and commitment also affected the outcome of the network projects. The third factor, the number of active members during the project had a great impact of the survival since all the networks lost members over time.
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