Entrepreneurial Idea Identification Through Online Social Networks
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentBusiness and Management
ProgramDoctor of Philosophy
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The increasing use of social network websites may signal a change in the way the next generation of entrepreneurs identify entrepreneurial ideas. An important part of the entrepreneurship literature emphasizes how vital the use of social networks is to entrepreneurial idea identification, opportunity recognition, and ultimately new venture creation. The explosive growth of these online social networking sites provides millions with the ability to communicate more information to a larger group of people with greater frequency than existed in the past. The focus of this study was to determine whether the use of online social networks influences the idea identification process differently than traditional `offline' social networks. Results are based on surveys collected from 282 students from nine different community colleges in the state of Maryland. The results from this dissertation show that the use of online social network websites significantly increases the number of contacts, business contacts, weak ties, and strong ties that nascent entrepreneurs communicate with. In addition, results show that nascent entrepreneurs using online social network websites not only exchange more information with their contacts, but identify more entrepreneurial ideas than their counterparts that do not use online social network websites. The practical and theoretical implications of this research are discussed and future research directions are presented.