The role of spirituality in Islamic business networks: The case of internationalizing Turkish SMEs

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Abstract

This paper sets out to investigate the role of religion and spirituality in a business network context, with an empirical focus on the international business development of Turkish SMEs. By drawing on the concept of homophily and tie strength, we argue that, while religion can act as a bridge and thus create a multitude of weak ties within a business network, spirituality can deepen these ties and make them stronger through increased emotional intensity, intimacy and reciprocal service. The data were collected from participants in two Islamic business associations in Turkey. The results suggest that spirituality indeed drives members’ commitment to the network and the presence of spirituality has a distinctive effect on members’ contributions to and demands on the network. More specifically, members who treat their network membership as an extension of their spiritual practice tend to mainly benefit from intangible resources, while members who view their shared religion as an entry point into the network seem to benefit from both tangible and intangible network resources. The findings have several theoretical and practical implications, including the introduction of the spirituality concept into the discussion of homophily and tie strength in business networks, and the role of home networks in the internationalization of SMEs.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of World Business
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Sep 2019