Social Influence in Entrepreneurial Career Choice: Evidence from Randomized Field Experiments on Network Ties
Posted: 29 Jan 2014 Last revised: 7 Aug 2018
Date Written: October 25, 2016
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
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