Social Networks, Social Capital, & Intrapreneurship

Lecture 2 - Corporate Entrepreneurship (BMSE04) 2019-2020

Stefan Breet
Stefan Breet


Event: Corporate Entrepreneurship (BMSE04) 2019-2020
Date: November 29, 2019
Time: 13:00 - 15:45 +0100
Location: Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

Social Networks, Social Capital, & Intrapreneurship


This is the second lecture of the course Corporate Entrepreneurship (BMSE04) 2019-2020. The course is a mandatory component of the Master of Science (MSc) in Strategic Entrepreneurship programme and teaches students how organizations can balance advantage-seeking (strategic management) with opportunity-seeking (entrepreneurship) activities.

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

Although we usually think about organizations in terms of their formal hierarchy, it is the network of informal relationships among employees that has an important effect on intrapreneurial behavior. In this lecture, we discussed the valuable insights we can gain if we adopt a network perspective. Instead of focusing on the attributes of employees—such as their education, skills, or experience—we focus on the way they are connected to their colleagues. We look at their social capital instead of their human capital.

We discussed two types of social capital and their effects on intrapreneurship. Network brokerage—or connecting otherwise unconnected colleagues—is beneficial for the generation of novel ideas because it gives employees access to diverse information. Network closure—or being part of a dense network of relationships—is beneficial for the implementation of novel ideas because it provides employees with the support and trust needed to coordinate projects. Depending on their cognitive style—which can be innovative or adaptive—employees fare better in brokerage or closed networks.

We also discussed a dynamic view of network brokerage, in which the broker takes an active role and connects or reconnects two colleagues who can potentially help each other with their entrepreneurial ideas. Adopting this approach—which is called a Tertius Iungens orientation—increases people's involvement in innovation projects. We concluded the lecture with the six myths about informal networks and their reality checks.

Required Readings