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Entrepreneurial learning through online social networking in high-tech startups

Emanuela Scarmozzino (Department of Mechanical, Energy and Management Engineering, University of Calabria, Rende, Italy)
Vincenzo Corvello (Department of Mechanical, Energy and Management Engineering, University of Calabria, Rende, Italy)
Michele Grimaldi (Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, University of Cassino and the Southern Lazio, Cassino, Italy)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to analyze the contribution of professional social networking websites (PSNWs) to entrepreneurial learning in high-tech startups. In addition, in the present paper, the relationships between intellectual capital (IC) and PSNW-supported entrepreneurial learning have been investigated.


The paper is based on data collected through a questionnaire distributed to entrepreneurs and managers of high-tech startups. In order to understand the behavior of startuppers in PSNWs two theoretical constructs have been devised, which could put into evidence knowledge sharing and knowledge seeking occurrences. In these constructs, entrepreneurial learning represents the dependent variable, while IC components are considered as moderators. The obtained results have been analyzed through hierarchical regression.


Results have indicated that PSNWs support the learning processes of startuppers and that the social capital, one of the components of IC acts as an important mediator in the hypothesized relationships between knowledge seeking activities and entrepreneurial learning.

Research limitations/implications

This study has taken a sample of middle-sized entrepreneurships into consideration. Future research could be focused on larger entrepreneurships, in order to validate the obtained results. In addition, it could be interesting to examine further factors affecting the improvement of entrepreneurial learning practices in startuppers and larger organizations.


PSNWs are often used by entrepreneurs to create relations and to exchange knowledge. This fact notwithstanding, there is a dearth of studies that analyze how entrepreneurial learning can be facilitated by online social networking. The paper provides a clearer view of these issues and represents a first step in filling this research gap.



This paper forms part of a special section Entrepreneurial learning dynamics in knowledge intensive enterprises.


Scarmozzino, E., Corvello, V. and Grimaldi, M. (2017), "Entrepreneurial learning through online social networking in high-tech startups", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 406-425.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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