Exploring Business Information Networks of Small Retailers in Rural Communities
Vol. Volume 9, Number 1 April/2004
Barbara J. Frazier and Linda S. Niehm
This article examines the networking activities of successful independant retailers operating in rural communities in the United States. The study uses data from semi structured interviews with 24 small retailers to discover how the participants perceptions of distinct informal networks including Advisor, Merchant, Grapevine, Inspiration and Expert networks. The image resulting from the study is one of the socially active and competent individuals, who engage in multiple interactions within a wide variety of networks. The ability to engage others in social discourse appears to be an important asset in building and using proactive networks. The structural, relational and social capital characteristics and competitive value of each network is discussed. Propositions for further research are also presented.