Cognitive and social identity influences on founders' online networks, networking actions, and network outcomes

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Networks are known to be a critical asset for entrepreneurs. This study aims to help better understand the networks, networking actions, and network outcomes of entrepreneurs by investigating two understudied contexts: online networks and founder social identity. Two specific questions are examined: To what extent and how are founders’ networking behaviours and network outcomes different in the online context? and To what extent and how does founder social identity influence founders’ networks and networking behaviours on SNSs? Considering these questions together presents an opportunity to examine the interplay between founders’ cognitive processes, their self-concepts, and their networking actions on social network sites. This is important because founders wonder how best to leverage the affordances of social network sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to entrepreneurial advantage. The study adopts pragmatism’s ontological and epistemological lenses for its research design. Empirical data from 35 depth interviews with founders in the early stages of their ventures is analysed using inductive and abductive methods. Patterns of meaning and theoretical themes emerge from the data that help shed light on the experiences of founders networking online.The findings and conclusions of this study highlight how the online context of networking is unique for founders, and outline how founders’ social identities may influence their networking actions and cognitive networking styles. Specifically, 12 propositions and a conceptual model are developed that offer a comprehensive research agenda. The model purports that social judgment bias moderates founders’ cognitive willingness to extract resources online. The study also illuminates how founder social identity acts as an antecedent to founders’ online networking behaviour, and explores the influences of enacting founder social identity-salient instrumental, collaborative, or veritable networking styles. Implications for entrepreneurship theory and practice are discussed.
Date of Award1 Oct 2014
LanguageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorEleanor Shaw (Supervisor) & Juliette Wilson (Supervisor)

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