Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Sustaining business networks: Understanding the benefit bundles sought by members of local business associations

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Robert Newbery, Professor Matthew GortonORCiD, Professor Jeremy Phillipson, Dr Jane Atterton



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Local business associations can be important mechanisms for stimulating inter-firm cooperation leading to economic growth and development. However, previous research suggests that the unfulfilled expectations of their members can lead to low participation, high membership churn and network instability over time. As a departure from studies that have explored why local associations supply certain benefits and services, this paper draws on an original, demand side membership survey of local business associations, to identify for the first time the bundles of benefits sought by members. Two bundles of benefits (instrumental and info-social) relating to thin and thick models of rational choice respectively are identified in explaining why firms join and remain part of associations. The relevance of these bundles to members was found to vary with business profile and length of membership, with the value of instrumental benefits reducing over time, whereas the demand for info-social benefits remained relatively stable. The findings have important implications for local strategies for sustaining business networks.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Newbery R, Gorton M, Phillipson J, Atterton J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy

Year: 2016

Volume: 34

Issue: 7

Pages: 1267-1283

Print publication date: 03/11/2016

Online publication date: 08/10/2015

Acceptance date: 08/09/2013

Date deposited: 27/10/2015

ISSN (print): 0263-774X

ISSN (electronic): 1472-3425

Publisher: Pion Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/0263774X15608850


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
PTA-033-2006-00054Economic and Social Research Council