Social networks and small business performance in West African border regions

Mathias Kuépié, Michel Tenikue, Olivier Walther

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This paper studies the links between economic performance and social networks in West Africa. Using data collected on 358 small-scale traders in five border markets, we show that social networks can be simultaneously a resource which positively contributes to labour market outcomes and a social burden that has a negative economic impact. Testing the effect of social networks between small traders and three categories of actors, we find that the most well-connected actors are also the most successful in terms of monthly profit. The effects of social networks are, however, dependent on the type of persons with whom traders are connected. We show that support received from state representatives and politicians is converted into economic performance, while the impact of law enforcement officers on the monthly profits of traders is not significant. We also find that interacting with traditional religious leaders has a negative effect on economic performance. Our work has two implications: Firstly, collecting data on social networks remains challenging due to endogeneity. Secondly, network-enhancing policies should aim at improving both the internal connectivity of economic actors at the local level and their external connectivity with the rest of the world.

TidsskriftOxford Development Studies
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)202-219
StatusUdgivet - 2016

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