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Abstract for International Conference on Small Business

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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

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Abstract for International Conference on Small Business

  1. 1. How Twitter affects Irish Entrepreneurs’ effectual thinking and behaviour Jane Leonard Lecturer Cork Institute of Technology Rossa Avenue Bishopstown Cork City 021- Jane.leonard@cit.ie www.cit.ie Key words: Effectuation, Social Media, Twitter, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurial Networks
  2. 2. Abstract 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 resources. Background literature 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 entrepreneurs. 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.
  3. 3. Methodology 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 companies.

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