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Beyond physical boundaries: a qualitative study of the entrepreneurial use of Social Networking Sites
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
2010 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In the past decades technology has changed the way people interact. With the introduction of theInternet, new forms of communication have been developing and changing the ways peoplerelate and create relationships. These new forms of communication provide the users thepossibility to elude time and geographical constraints, therefore allowing them to always beconnected. In recent years new Internet applications known as Social Networking Sites havegained popularity and gained users from all around the globe. They have become an importantplatform to maintain existing relationships, but also to create new ones.This growing interest of people in social networking sites has developed a need, from differenttypes of companies, to create strategies to be noticed in these networks. However, most of, thefew, literature that can be found, is related to how globally known companies’ use these tools,and which benefits and constraints they have found on using them for the organization (van Zyl,2009); and little or no literature can be found on how an entrepreneur uses SNSs for companydevelopment and resource acquisition. In other words, there is a research gap in the literature forunderstanding how entrepreneurs shape their networks in order to gather important resources thatcan help them create, improve and develop their venture. The purpose of this study is to analyzehow entrepreneurs use electronic social networks, as a tool to find acquaintances, create businessrelationships and manage these relationships over time to gain social capital and shape aneffective business-network that can complement or expand their ‘real world’ networks. Based onprevious research and literature three main areas of study, that could be related to traditionalnetworks, were determined: network structure, strength of ties, and development of rapport. Fromthese elements a conceptual framework was developed, on which a comparison of the conceptsfrom traditional networks to electronic was made.Through the use of a qualitative research design and a processual analysis approach, ten semistructuredinterviews were conducted with entrepreneurs who use social networking sites fortheir business, and who could present and identify advantages and disadvantages of using thesesites as a business tool. The data was analyzed through a grounded theory method, where axialcodes were further collapsed or expanded to generate sub- categories and categories that wouldhelp explain the processes being studied. These data, as a result of the analysis, rendered twomodels of understanding; the first one presenting how both networking processes (Face to Faceand Electronic) interrelate with one another to enhance the overall network management, and thesecond suggesting an on-line networking process which can help enable rapport and enhanceinformation flows within an on-line network.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. , 104 p.
Keyword [en]
entrepreneurship, social media, social networks, social capital, electronic networks
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-35048OAI: diva2:328447
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2010-07-06 Created: 2010-07-04 Last updated: 2010-07-07Bibliographically approved

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