Does Twitter likely to spark effectual thinking in entrepreneurs. Are online interactions really capable of helping entrepreneurs use effectual thinking. What is the role of networks and week or strong ties
Abstract for International Conference on Small Business
How Twitter affects Irish Entrepreneurs’ effectual thinking and behaviour
Cork Institute of Technology
Key words: Effectuation, Social Media, Twitter, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurial Networks
Track title: Different Contexts
Paper title How Twitter affects Entrepreneurs’ effectual thinking and behaviour
Aim of the paper
This research seeks to provide a better understanding of how social media and in particular Twitter impacts or
triggers effectual thinking in Entrepreneurs. It will investigate whether the social interaction on Twitter may
lead to a reassessment of means and opportunities, enhanced stakeholder support and access to new
The concept of effectuation was introduced by Sarasvathy (2001). She contrasted causation processes (that
take a speciﬁc goal as given and identify the means needed to achieve the goal) with effectuation processes
(that take a set of means as given and focus on selecting between possible effects that can be created with
that set of means).The term effectuation refers to a logic that involves “moulding and enhancing initiatives,
formulating new goals and creating new opportunities rather than positioning oneself within environments
largely outside one's control or taking opportunities as exogenously given” (Wiltbank et al., 2009, p. 129)..
The logic of effectuation has recently received prominence in the entrepreneurship literature with the
recognition that effectual approaches can increase entrepreneurial efficacy and reduce the costs of business
failure, since failures of effectual firms occur earlier and at lower levels of investment (cf. Read et al., 2009a,
Read et al., 2009b, Sarasvathy, 2001 and Wiltbank et al., 2006, Fisher and Reuber, 2011). Sarasvathy (2008),
states that entrepreneurs create opportunities by starting with who they are, what they know and whom they
know; using their intellectual capital, human capital and social capital. Effectuators very rarely see
opportunities as given or outside of their control. For the most part, they work to fabricate, as well as
recognize and discover opportunities (Sarasvathy, Dew, Velamuri, & Venkataraman, 2003).
Social interaction plays a central role in effectuation processes and entrepreneurship research shows that
networks are one of the elements that affect opportunity recognition, entrepreneurial orientation, and even the
decision to become an entrepreneur. The network connections and structure facilitate the flow of information
and create the mutual trust and cooperation (Kwanghui and Brain, 2010). They provide access to resources
such as information, advice, and legitimacy which can enhance the entrepreneurial outcomes. Prior research
indicates that a person’s access to networks influences the development of entrepreneurial intention. The
reliance on networks is not just relevant in the start-up stage but continues through the careers of successful
In the past ten years, social networking technologies has revolutionised the way people collaborate,
communicate and network online. Twitter is the leading platform among micro blogging applications that allow
the users to create and to consume information in the “tweets”. Fisher and Reuber (2010) have shown that
entrepreneurs engaging through Twitter benefited from the use of this medium because it allowed them to
acquire more contacts and information, thus enabling them to better achieve a constantly revised set of goals.
However, they also found that these interactions may also prove to be unproductive in terms of advancing the
effectual process and may result in information overload and may result in a “mixed blessing “for
entrepreneurs enacting the effectual process. Entrepreneurs who operate alone or a part of SME are often the
sources of new ideas but lack the collective expertise and synergy to develop them commercially. If SMEs can
use Twitter to network on a global basis there is potential for triggering effectual thinking which may
encourage them to adopt a different approach to problem solving.
In this study we have identified a sample of start-up and established entrepreneurs. The sample consists of 20
entrepreneurs, 50% male and 50% female. 30% are at the start-up phase, 40% are established SMEs (Small
or Medium Enterprises) and 30% are leading global companies. They are all regular Twitter users.
We have designed a qualitative methodology to enable us to speak with and interact with the entrepreneurs.
This helps to capture the intangibles, the tacit knowledge that they take for granted as they develop their
careers. The primary source of data collection will be semi structured interviews. The interviews will be
recorded and will take place over 4 weeks in February 2014. The interview data will be analysed using an
inductive approach as this allows the actual responses to influence the analysis.
Results and implications
Thus, in this study, we hope to contribute to the field by capturing the experiences of entrepreneurs in start-up
and in established businesses. We expect to see results in 3 main areas
1. Whether social interaction on Twitter triggers the effectual process and causes the entrepreneur to
become aware of, or to reassess who they are, what they know and whom they know, in formulating
new goals and creating new opportunities.
2. The results should give an insight into how networks and access to information have led to an
expansion of resources or opportunities. It will report on their use of Twitter and their actions as
producers and consumers of “Tweets”. It will also provide some information on the importance of
online networks and whether those networking conversation continue beyond the Twitter platform.
3. It will investigate the factors that moderate the consequences of social interaction on Twitter
It may create an imperative for further research in the specific area of social media adoption behaviours in
SMEs and more specifically on how social media usage may impact entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial