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Entrepreneurs learning together: The importance of building trust for learning and exploiting business opportunities
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE).
Luleå University of Technology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE).
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
Abstract [en]

This longitudinal, qualitative case study examines trust-building processes and learning outcomes among entrepreneurs who participated in formal networks designed to develop competence and knowledge. This study is built on rich data collected through observation and video recordings made during network meetings and get-togethers. Additional data was gleaned from personal interviews with participating entrepreneurs. All data sources reveal on how trust develops and how entrepreneurs can use networks to learn and improve their capacity to exploit business opportunities. Studying how trust is built over time among entrepreneurs who demonstrate a low level of trust when they join the network, this study provides insights into micro-processes and important components of building trust. Findings suggest three processes that build commitment, companionship, and competence trust. Moreover, acknowledging the notion of social learning, the findings suggest that when entrepreneurs build trust with one another they can experience cognitive, emotional, and social changes by participating in a network. This may bring potential consequences for their exploiting opportunies. Implications for academics and managers are discussed.

National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-26100OAI: diva2:236569

Submitted 2010 to: International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, ISSN 1554-7191

Available from: 2009-09-23 Created: 2009-09-23 Last updated: 2012-08-24Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Learning among entrepreneurs in formal networks: Outcomes, processes and beyond
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Learning among entrepreneurs in formal networks: Outcomes, processes and beyond
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation focuses on how entrepreneurs learn to acquire entrepreneurial knowledge and competence, which ultimately can open doors to business success. Contemporary critics suggest that programs designed to develop general competence are not sufficiently relevant to these entrepreneurs. On the other hand, scholars and practitioners have recently noticed that external relations in formal learning networks can be a notable opportunity for learning in entrepreneurs. The aim of this dissertation is to elaborate on the processes and outcomes of government supported learning networks among entrepreneurs who work in small and medium sized enterprises. It draws on reports of four separate but interrelated research studies that author conducted. The research described in the dissertation is based on multiple theoretical perspectives, methodologies, and data sources. To gain a full understanding of the experiences of the different network participants, as well as the interactive processes within the learning network, data were collected from multiple sources: interviews, participant observation, and videotaping. The conclusions stated in appended paper 1 and 2 are primarily based on the interviews, but they are also supported by the observations and written material. Paper three focuses on the videos in combination with the interviews. Finally, to complement the qualitative research with insights regarding the relationships among trust, learning, and self-efficacy, the last paper reports the results of a quantitative survey study. The dissertation makes several major contributions to knowledge. First and foremost, by combining entrepreneurship theory and learning theory, it describes the outcomes that can emerge from formal learning networks and shows how these outcomes can have entrepreneurial consequences. Second, it suggests how the learning situation can be characterized and describes an appropriate learning environment for entrepreneurs from small and medium sized enterprises. The research also contributes to theory on how trust in formal learning networks is built and how this trust contributes to entrepreneurial learning. At the same time, it shows that the potential benefits derived from trust cannot be realized without incorporating the entrepreneur’s level of self-efficacy in the analysis. The dissertation concludes by offering suggestions for exploiting learning and business opportunities through the construction and utilization of learning networks. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2009. 81 p.
Studier i företagsekonomi. Serie B, ISSN 0346-8291 ; 70
formal learning networks, entrepreneurs, small and medium sized enterprises, learning outcomes, learning situation
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-25691 (URN)978-91-7264-848-7. (ISBN)
Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet, 90187, Umeå
Public defence
2009-11-07, Samhällsvetarhuset s205h, Umeå Universitet, samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2009-10-16 Created: 2009-08-28 Last updated: 2011-08-10Bibliographically approved

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Bergh, PontusWincent, Joakim
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