Internationalization and business networks: From a network outsider to an insider A multiple case study in Rwanda
Previous research on business networks has devoted considerable efforts towards studying their characteristics, dynamics and outcomes. However, it is unclear how a business goes from being an outsider to becoming an insider in a business network, and what the role of third-party network facilitators is in this endeavor. Moreover, the business network literature contains an empirical gap since not many studies are conducted in the African context. Based on that, the purpose of this paper is to gain a deeper understanding of business networks by specifically studying how companies which internationalize to Africa establish network insidership. Drawing on literature about internationalization, business networks and network facilitators, this multiple case study investigates nine Nordic companies which have internationalized to Rwanda, and two Swedish organizations identified as network facilitators in Rwanda. The findings firstly suggest that network insidership can be defined as either a relationship of product and service exchange or as knowledge and information exchange, and secondly propose a three-step model of how businesses can become network insiders. The model suggests that the three steps of becoming a network insider are firstly the importance of the business context, secondly the role of network facilitators which are facilitating introductions, creating meeting points and creating trust, and lastly the business’ own tasks of providing value and managing and enhancing relationships. This study contributes to the literature by increasing the understanding of business networks and by including the notion of network facilitators to the theoretical field of business networks.
MSc in International Business and Trade
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