To formalize or not to formalize business incubators networks: that is not the question.

Notice bibliographique

Bibeau, J., Meilleur, R. et St-Jean, É. (2023). To formalize or not to formalize business incubators networks: that is not the question. Technovation, 130.


With more than seven decades of supporting entrepreneurs, today’s business incubators are distinguished by their external networks. These networks of collaborators provide key resources, knowledge, and skills. Studies call on incubator managers to formalize the management of their networks, a practice that can generate a competitive advantage. However, research to date has been relatively silent on how to manage these external resources. To address this, the management practices of a top-performing business incubator in Canada were observed. Close to 50 individual interviews were conducted over a four-year period and theoretical concepts from the business incubation, network and social capital literature inspired the observed practices. The results show that network management is a shared responsibility between entrepreneurs, external stakeholders, and managers and formalizing external ties cannot be an all-purpose practice. As such, a theoretical framework is proposed to shed light on the dynamic nature of managing social capital. A management that is both relational and structuring brings out the trust and autonomy of people in situations of dynamic and, sometimes, constraining interactions. Highlighting these practices contributes to a more refined conceptualization of incubator management and, on a practical level, raises the importance of the human and relational dimensions in managing these changing environments.


Publication du membre

Étienne St-Jean

Appartenance aux volets