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Online Social Network Matters to Entrepreneurial Performance- Diverse Actors Are Critical

Online Social Network Matters to Entrepreneurial Performance- Diverse Actors Are Critical

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Published by: Coins on Aug 28, 2011
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Online Social Network Matters to Entrepreneurial Performance: diverse actors are critical
Yang Song, University of Amsterdam, Y.Song@uva.nl
Social network approach has attracted researchers’ attention to uncover the complex relationships amonggroups and communities. As social network analysis focuses more on relationships rather than attributes ofthe research objects, it also has become a prominent theoretical perspective within the literature onentrepreneurship and has been suggested as a relevant method for explaining why some entrepreneurs aremore successful in starting and maintaining businesses than others (Aldrich & Zimmer, 1985; Johannisson,1986).Despite some work on entrepreneurial network dynamics and evolution (Larson, 1992; Greve, 1995; Minguzzi &Passaro, 2000; O’Donnell
et al.,
2001;Greve & Salaff, 2003), most of the research on entrepreneurship adoptinga longitudinal network-based approach tends to be descriptive rather than explanatory (Hoang & Antoncic,2001; Greve & Salaff, 2003). However, in order to understand network dynamics and evolution and the effecton entrepreneurial performance, we need to move beyond descriptive accounts of network structures to in-depth explanations of structural dynamics of entrepreneurial networks.As ubiquitous usage of Internet has increased human interaction and opportunities for the emergence of socialnetworks, which makes it possible for us to analyze entrepreneurs’ behavioral data by collecting entrepreneursnetwork data and understand their behaviors from their online communications. Online social networks cannot only offer multiple types of data but also allow access to social (e.g. family, friends, acquaintances) andprofessional (e.g. partners, funders, business contacts) networks simultaneously. We find that different types ofnetwork data can be extracted from online social networks, such as friendship networks, advice networks,kinship networks, business networks etc.In this study we aim to explore the impact of entrepreneurs’ online social network on their performance byanalyzing entrepreneurs’ network diversity. Previous work on the impacts of network diversity onentrepreneurial performance is still controversial. On one hand, entrepreneurs tend to get more successful ifthey can get access to diverse information and resources in their network (Bruderl and Preisendorfer, 1996). Inother words, the diversity of social network can enhance the breadth of perspective, cognitive resource, andoverall problem-solving capacity of the group (Hambrick, Cho, and Chen, 1996) thus can enhanceentrepreneurial performance and the whole network performance. On the other hand, the diversity of socialnetworks may enhance communication problems and conflicts among different actors thus can also decreasethe performance of the networks.Entrepreneurs are embedded in different online social networks. We propose that all the online social networksare connected with each other, which can be combined as one big online social network for entrepreneurs. Themore diverse are entrepreneurs’ online social network, the more likely they will survive and have higherperformance. In order to answer our research question, we integrated entrepreneurs’ online social network bycombining 4 online social networks, which are LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Hyves. We designed an onlinesurvey to collect entrepreneurs’ online social network data. The survey website uses official API to collect datafrom the different online social networks. Using the official API, we were able to collect actual entrepreneurs’behavioral data—including profile information as well as connection information—from different social networksites rather than relying on self-reported network data. Furthermore, the survey included a set of questions for

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