Abstract

Previous research has shown that social networks play a critical role in the entrepreneurial process (Aldrich & Zimmer, 1986; Stam & Elfring, 2008). Entrepreneurs with favorable positions in social structure identify innovative opportunities, secure privileged access to resources, and obtain endorsements that foster the legitimacy of their ventures. Yet while the importance of networks for entrepreneurial ventures is widely acknowledged, still little is known about how entrepreneurs may actually obtain the network positions that confer strategic advantage (Stuart & Sorenson, 2008). The current study addresses this knowledge gap by examining how entrepreneurs’ participation in industry events (e.g., conferences, seminars) influences their social capital and, indirectly, the performance of their ventures. Building on Feld’s (1981) focus theory, I argue that industry events represent an important, but understudied social context in which entrepreneurs may develop networks that either enhance or constrain their performance.

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