There are two conflicting patterns of network development of founding entrepreneurs that emerge from existing literature. One of them evolves from an identity-based network dominated by strong ties into an intentionally managed network rich in weak ties. The other involves the opposite, with weak ties dominating in the emergence phase and some of them developing into strong ties, the latter of which are characteristic of the early growth phase. The empirical part of this study focused on the development of the networks of 32 IT start-ups in The Netherlands, which we constructed on the basis of secondary data sources and in-depth interviews with the founders. We found three distinct patterns of network development. The conflicting patterns from the literature fitted two of our patterns and we were able to reconcile them by showing how initial founding conditions and post-founding entrepreneurial processes influence tie-formation processes. We propose that the simultaneous effect of these tie-formation processes leads to particular development patterns of weak and strong ties over time, highlighting the importance of investigating network processes. Copyright

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Organization Studies
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Elfring, T, & Hulsink, W. (2007). Networking by entrepreneurs: Patterns of tie-formation in emerging organizations. Organization Studies, 28(12), 1849–1872. doi:10.1177/0170840607078719