How Student Entrepreneurs Develop Their Social Network Over Time During the Process of Starting a Company

Martin Haring


Recent studies have focused on which networks would help entrepreneurs to become successful and what would be the best mix of strong ties and weak ties to build an organization upon. With this longitudinal research we add insights into the process of network development on an individual level and complement earlier research on this topic.

This article explores the development of strong and weak ties in the social network of student entrepreneurs and the role five mechanisms of social networking play in the process of opportunity recognition, resource mobilization and gaining legitimacy, through a longitudinal case study among 17 student start-ups in the period 2009-2013.

All student entrepreneurs started their businesses in the last two years of their bachelor education, part of a venture creation program. They were interviewed directly after they had started their businesses, and their activities were monitored while they were developing their businesses and networks over a period of three years.

This study adds to the current social network literature by analyzing how student entrepreneurs use social networking while being involved in the entrepreneurial process of starting a business and especially make use of the advantages of being a student, i.e. being part of the network and having access to the resources of the university. Successful student entrepreneurs distinguish themselves of the rest by keeping on adding valuable connections to their network, having no fear in asking for help and profiting of the goodwill in the business world towards student entrepreneurs.

This article can be of use for both academics and practitioners.

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Business and Management Studies     ISSN 2374-5916 (Print)     ISSN 2374-5924 (Online)

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