The stairway to Heaven? The effective use of social capital in new venture creation for a rural business

David Moyes, Paul Ferri, Fiona Henderson, Geoffrey Whittam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Small business researchers have explored how entrepreneurs benefit from their existing networks and social capital in venture creation, observing that better connections enhance the likelihood of the success of new businesses. However, we know very little about how new-venture entrepreneurs overcome gaps in their social capital and lack of access to networks. This research provides a case-study illustrating how a rural funeral business developed a sustainable, profitable and scalable crematorium venture through its owner's instrumental use of his existing social capital and the purposeful recruitment of new members to fill gaps in expertise and resources. Combining these relationships, he created and managed a network which added significant value to the process of enterprise creation. We explore how the business-owner used this network and his own market knowledge to profitably exploit a perceived gap in the market through the provision of a facility which a local authority had previously considered, and rejected, as unsustainable because of insufficient population density in the region.This case study of a funeral and crematorium business in a rural location builds on Bosworth's (2012) model and argues that an additional category (Type E) is required to incorporate rural service industries.An alternative semantic construct of social capital is presented, outlining the concept as a fluid and dynamic, time-influenced phenomenon rather than a discrete, fixed network that occasionally creates new links. The concepts of core and augmented social capital are presented. Core social capital describes existing bonds between actors within a group, while the augmented social capital of inter-group bridging creates a more expansive network.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Early online date16 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • Crematorium
  • Entrepreneur
  • Networks
  • Rural business
  • Social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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