Pushing Elusive Alliances into the Light: Discovering the Value of Informal Networks on the Internet

Pushing Elusive Alliances into the Light: Discovering the Value of Informal Networks on the Internet

Rian van der Merwe (Curtin University of Technology, Australia) and Leyland F. Pitt (Curtin University of Technology, Australia)
Copyright: © 2003 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/jeco.2003040102
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Abstract

Sociologists have for many years explored the value of social capital, or the resources embedded in social relations and social network structures. In recent years, organizational forms such as strategic alliances and network organizations have been an important new form of entrepreneurial venture, particularly in business markets. An important and often overlooked type of alliance on the Internet is what we call the “elusive alliance”. These alliances are not formally acknowledged, they are difficult to identify and can often be unknown, even to the members of the alliance themselves. They consist of informal links and social networks on the Internet—unspoken connections and codes of conduct that are extremely valuable because of the social capital embedded in them. This paper aims to find ways to formally identify and expand these alliances in entrepreneurial ways that will improve their effectiveness, usefulness and ultimately, their social capital, translated into financial returns. We use Social Network Theory as the framework to study these networks.

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