Business incubators (BIs) have gradually evolved to focus increasingly on the development of networks and network functions. However, existing literature indicates that much ambiguity remains regarding the importance and role of cooperation within the incubator networks. In particular, few studies divide incubator networks into internal and external networks to explore how these networks influence the enterprise growth performance (EGP). Based on the social network and organizational learning theories, we analyze the role of entrepreneurial learning (exploratory and exploitative) in the relationship between internal and external networks and EGP in dynamic environments. Through a multiple regression analysis of survey data from 205 incubatees in 14 Chinese business incubators, we find that the BIs’ internal and external networks positively impact EGP and exploratory and exploitative learning mediate the relationship between them. Moreover, when incubatees are in a highly dynamic environment, internal networks more positively affect exploitative learning, while external networks inhibit exploratory learning. Finally, we discuss the study’s implications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business and International Management