Friends doing business. An Explorative Longitudinal Case Study of Creativity and Innovation in an Italian Technology-Based Start-Up
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With a process perspective based on a framework derived from several disciplines, we theoretically discuss how friendship dynamics in founding teams may affect a business. We develop a conceptual model that considers the different nature of exchanges in business and friendship, which may serve as a useful starting base for future investigation (in the Appendix we report some measures of friendship). We then examine an exemplary case. We focus on group cohesiveness (a proxy for friendship), decision-making, and organization of an Italian technology-based firm’s founding team over time and explore the process of generating creative ideas and implementing innovation. Our speculative findings show that chaos does not necessarily favor creativity and innovation: while low group cohesiveness leads to disorganization because business norms prevail over friendship ones, high group cohesiveness creates structure in the organization that sustains the generation of creative outcomes by enhancing the role of friendship norms in decision-making. We explain this finding in the light of the principle of reciprocity of exchanges.
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