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Abstract

This paper focuses on the networks of business-related contacts that are built and maintained by manufacturing entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa. It describes the various functions that such networks perform, explaining why each function is important that given the environment in which the enterprises are operating, and looks at the extent to which collective action is either necessary or desirable for their fulfilment. Data from the Ghanaian manufacturing sector suggests that networks are more commonly valued because they provide access to information about new technologies, trading opportunities and the conduct of others than because they provide a basis for collective action. Further, where functions can be performed either collectively or through bilateral interactions, the latter is more likely. This notwithstanding, there is evidence that the networks can provide support for both socially beneficial and socially detrimental collective action.

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