Journal of Small Business Management 2013 ••(••), pp. ••–•• doi: 10.1111/jsbm.12038
The Contribution of Networking to Small Firm Marketing
by Aodheen O’Donnell
It is generally accepted that networking is one means through which owner–managers of small ﬁrms market their goods and services. However, though there has been considerable attention directed toward the concept of small business networking, previous studies have failed to present a comprehensive investigation of the contents of network links, an analysis of the beneﬁts contained within these links, and an expatiation of how these beneﬁts contribute to the small ﬁrm, speciﬁcally its marketing activities. To that end, this paper reports on an in-depth qualitative study to present an analysis of the contribution that networking makes to small ﬁrm marketing.
It is increasingly accepted that the process of networking undertaken by owner–managers of small ﬁrms is integral to the natural way that small businesses are managed (Aldrich and Zimmer 1986; Aldrich, Reese, and Dubini 1989; Birley 1985; Birley, Cromie, and Myers 1991; Carson et al. 1995; Chell and Baines 2000; Cromie 1994; Gilmore and Carson 1999; Hill and Wright 2001; Hoang and Antoncic 2003; Jack, Drakopoulou Dodd, and Anderson 2004; Johannisson 1986, 1990; Lechner and Dowling 2003; O’Donnell and Cummins 1999; Pages and Garmise 2003; Shaw 2000, 2006; Szarka 1990). Moreover, networking is viewed as one means through which owner–managers of small ﬁrms market their goods and services (Carson et al. 1995; Gilmore and Carson 1999; Hill 2001; O’Donnell 2004; Shaw 2000). However, though there has been much attention directed toward the concept of small business networking, much less investigation has been applied to the contents of the network links, how these contents are realized through the process of networking, and how the resultant beneﬁts can
contribute to the small ﬁrm, speciﬁcally its marketing activities. To that end,...