Plenary Lecture

Revisiting the Research Unit of Analysis in a Networked Economy

Professor Léo-Paul Dana
Montpellier Business School
Marie Curie Fellow
Princeton University

Abstract: In the past, entrepreneurs could prosper as owner-managers of independent local businesses. Larger firms used financial resources to expand internationally. Consequently, the unit of analysis in business research has typically been – and continues to be – the entrepreneur and/or the enterprise. The central unit of analysis in traditional International Business theories has been the firm, usually large, with a uni-polar, hierarchic structure of power & control. Traditional trait theories of Entrepreneurship attempted to explain entrepreneurship activity based around the individual. Yet, the reality of the global marketplace has been changing as formerly competing firms, both large and small, are now co-operating in various types of horizontal, vertical or trans-industry alliances. Growth need not take place by means of mergers and acquisitions, but can also be attained via networking, leading to a multi-polar distribution of ownership and control. Hence, we see the decline of traditional competition, as business evolves from uni-polar to multi-polar structures. The individual firm is no longer the most important player; rather we have groups. To reflect changing reality, we might consider changing our unit of analysis to relationships, links, networks and alliances rather than individuals/firms in isolation.

Brief Biography of the Speaker: Léo-Paul Dana, a graduate of Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales, and McGill University, in Canada, is Professor at Montpellier Business School and Marie Curie Fellow at Princeton University. He formerly served at the University of Canterbury and prior to that as Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship at INSEAD and Deputy Director of the International Business MBA Programme at Nanyang Business School, in Singapore. He has published extensively in a variety of leading journals including the British Food Journal, Cornell Quarterly, Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, Entrepreneurship: Theory & Practice, International Small Business Journal, Journal of Small Business Management, the Journal of World Business, and Small Business Economics.

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