Social Influence in Entrepreneurial Career Choice: Evidence from Randomized Field Experiments on Network Ties

Posted: 29 Jan 2014 Last revised: 7 Aug 2018

See all articles by Charles E. Eesley

Charles E. Eesley

Stanford University - Management Science & Engineering

Yanbo Wang

National University of Singapore (NUS) - NUS Business School

Date Written: October 25, 2016

Abstract

How do different sources of social influence impact the likelihood of entrepreneurship? We examine this question in the setting of an entrepreneurship class in which students were randomly assigned to receive mentorship from either an entrepreneur or a non-entrepreneur. Using two longitudinal field experiments with a pre-test/post-test design, we find that randomization to an entrepreneur mentor increases the likelihood of joining or founding a startup, particularly for students whose parents were not entrepreneurs. Performance data suggests that social influence is not encouraging “worse” entrepreneurship and may have helped students in joining or founding better-performing ventures. We contribute to the literature on social influence in entrepreneurship by examining the interaction between multiple sources of social influence and by using randomized field experiments to overcome the endogenous process of tie formation.

Keywords: entrepreneurship, mentorship, social networks, randomized experiment

Suggested Citation

Eesley, Charles E. and Wang, Yanbo, Social Influence in Entrepreneurial Career Choice: Evidence from Randomized Field Experiments on Network Ties (October 25, 2016). Boston U. School of Management Research Paper No. 2387329, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2387329 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2387329

Charles E. Eesley (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Management Science & Engineering ( email )

473 Via Ortega
Stanford, CA 94305-9025
United States

HOME PAGE: http://chuckeesley.com

Yanbo Wang

National University of Singapore (NUS) - NUS Business School ( email )

Mochtar Riady Building #6-40
15 Kent Ridge Drive
Singapore, 117592
Singapore

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