Centre for Economic Transformation| CET

The networks of entrepreneurs shaping the business networks of students


Many programs in entrepreneurship education (EE) offer modules or training in networking as a way for entrepreneurs to gather advice or co-create novel ideas with other people in their business networks.

Unfortunately, the role of the diverse actors of those networks, such as family, friends and very close advisors, is taken for granted, or not explained when being applied to business. It seems that in EE, having a networks is assumed to naturally exist and there is little to be done except of expanding it.

Yet, because students are in the process of forming their business, networks keep changing and strong ties need to be combined with weak ties to provide support for growth, and even more to provide a listening ear or unpaid support when it comes to early warning signals of potential business crisis. In this paper, we argue that students are better equipped for business when they pay attention to the composition of their networks, especially when it comes to deal with a potential failure.

Based on interviews of students with entrepreneurs who experienced business crisis, the episode of failure become a unique case to look at those networks that provide the support and strength to keep the business. Having business networks signaling when the business was not going well led to seek external help to mitigate the impact of the crisis and recover.

From these insights, we formulate the following question: How can entrepreneurship students be better equipped in terms of using business networks, especially to counteract signals of business crisis?

Reference Alvarado Valenzuela, J., Martens, J., & Wakkee, I. (2022). The networks of entrepreneurs shaping the business networks of students. Paper presented at 3E 2022 - Entrepreneurship Education Excellence: from Outcome Assessment to Individual and Societal Impacts , Dijon, France.