The influence of social aspects on new venture creation : A qualitative study on the role of entrepreneurs’ and entrepreneuses’ social capital and social competence in the start-up phase

University essay from Umeå universitet/Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet


Previous entrepreneurship research has shown that networks are of great importance when discovering and exploiting business opportunities, i.e. in the start up process of new venture (e.g. Davidsson and Honig 2003; Evald, Klyver, and Svendsen 2006; Klyver, Hindle, and Meyer forthcoming). The value of a network is referred to as social capital, which refers to the amount of resources, both tangible and intangible, that an entrepreneur or entrepreneuse might have access to through the members of their network (Nahapiet and Ghoshal 1998). Social capital is the product of social interactions (Anderson et al. 2007), implying that a person’s social abilities, i.e. social competence, can influence the creation of social capital (Baron and Markman 2000, 2003). Social capital the factor that helps the entrepreneur “get through the door”, while the entrepreneur’s social abilities determine the outcome of that interaction (Baron and Markman 2000:107). The focus of this study is, thus, to explore whether entrepreneurs and entrepreneuses utilize different types of the social capital in the process of starting a new venture and whether they perceive social competence to have an influential role in this process.

The theoretical framework consist of three main theoretical areas; social capital, social competence, and psychological gender. The first part is based on Nahapiet and Ghoshal’s (1998) model of social capital and describes theories explaining factors influence social capital embedded within a person’s network relationships. The second part covers social competence and the abilities that constitute this concept. Further, five dimensions are identified as comprising social competence, i.e. social astuteness, interpersonal influence, networking ability, apparent sincerity, and social manipulation (Baron and Markman 2000, 2003; Hoehn-Weiss et al. 2004; Ferris et al. 2005, 2007; Riggio 1986). The last part discusses whether there might exist differences between entrepreneurs and entrepreneuses regarding their behaviours and their psychological gender (Bem 1974, 1975, 1977; Spence et al. 1975).

The research design show similarities with both an inductive and a deductive approach, with a focus on the induction since little research within the entrepreneurship field has combined the different topics comprising the scope of this study. Further, this implies qualitative research methods and the empirical data was collect through conducting 14 semi structured interviews with entrepreneurs and entrepreneuses as well as through a questionnaire aiming at determine the respondents’ psychological gender.

The results of the present study indicate that entrepreneurs and entrepreneuses utilize different the types of social capital in the stages of the start up phase. Further, the study show that social competence plays and important role in the start up process and that there is a circular relation between social capital and social competence. Moreover, the results of the study indicate that male and female entrepreneurs behave differently in the start up phase and that their perceptions about and usage of their social competence might differ.

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