Persistently learning: How small-world network imprints affect subsequent firm learning
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Sullivan, Bilian Ni; Tang, Yi; Marquis, Christopher
We integrate and extend organizational imprinting and organizational learning theories in a study of how firms’ small-world networks at founding have enduring effects on firm learning. We show that firms embedded in networks having denser clustering and shorter path lengths at founding are subsequently more inclined toward exploratory learning. We also demonstrate that subsequent network positions (closeness centrality and structural holes) strengthen the initial small world network imprinting effect. Results based on a sample of US venture capital firms from 1995 to 2003 largely support our hypotheses. Contributions to imprinting theory, the organizational learning literature, and inter-firm network studies are discussed.
Network imprinting; organizational learning; small-world networks; venture capital firms