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The impact of entrepreneurs’ prior experience and communication networks on perceived knowledge access

Wei Shi (Department of Professional Communications, Farmingdale State College – SUNY, Farmingdale, New York, USA)
Matthew Weber (Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 8 December 2020

Issue publication date: 21 June 2021




Entrepreneurs approach the startup process with a stock of experience and a unique range of accumulated skills and abilities. Their prior experience shapes an “information funnel” through which the entrepreneurs’ attention is filtered. This study aims to investigate the impact of the relatedness of prior knowledge and knowledge acquisition activities on entrepreneurs’ perceived knowledge access.


Survey data were collected from 100 early-stage entrepreneurs in the New York City metropolitan area to empirically test the proposed relationships with the method of conditional process modeling.


Findings from this study demonstrate a negative relationship between entrepreneurs’ prior experience and their perceived ability to access knowledge. However, this negative relationship can be mitigated by seeking tacit knowledge through informal channels. In addition, the relatedness of prior experience plays a positive role in influencing media use and knowledge network engagement. While media use is a positive predictor of perceived knowledge access, engagement within knowledge networks shows no direct influence on perceived knowledge access.


This study sheds light on the dimensions of entrepreneurial knowledge and recognizes perceived knowledge access as an important concept in forming an entrepreneurial intention and adds to the current dialogue on the interpretation of entrepreneurs’ prior experience. For practitioners, this study offers insights into the formation of founding teams and the approaches to obtaining valuable information.



Shi, W. and Weber, M. (2021), "The impact of entrepreneurs’ prior experience and communication networks on perceived knowledge access", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 1406-1426.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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