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Support exchange: The effect on entrepreneurial performance in an uncontrollable online world

Carlsberg Foundation Young Researcher Fellowships


As entrepreneurs are increasingly more present on online social media platforms, they are also exposed to more uncontrollable and instant dimensions of social support from a diverse group of people. They may therefore suddenly find themselves in unexpected situations online with significant influences on their experienced stress level which in turn impacts their cognition, mental well-being and performance. It is therefore important to understand how social support unfolds, functions and impacts entrepreneurs on online social media platforms depending on differences in their online social skills. This understanding leads to practical implications on how to be active online, which online skills are required, and how to operate and perform in a more uncontrollable support environment.


Social support to entrepreneurs in offline exchanges significantly influences entrepreneurial behavior, mental well-being and performance, but these influences are expected to be different and potentially intensified in online exchanges. When interactions move online, social norms of behavior and built-in expectations related to social support are different and change how interactions between people take place - they often become more volatile and fluctuating. The project is expected to advance current theoretical understandings of entrepreneurs' network by proposing a new research agenda, where online exchanges are seen as significantly different than offline exchanges of social support, and where increased attention is given to the new types of skills required in online interactions.


The project consists of three complementary studies. The first study involves data scraping from online social media platforms to see how social support is expressed and exchanged online. The second study utilizes the experience sampling methodology to capture the dynamic nature of social support in real time, and finally a longitudinal three-wave study will capture the influence of various dimensions of social support on entrepreneurial performance. The project uniquely enables theorizing of how social media influences entrepreneurs on a personal level as well as their performance. The studies will be carried out in close collaboration with a network of national and international experts in the cross-fields of entrepreneurship, networks, social support, social media and mental well-being.


Focusing on efforts to improve entrepreneurs' mental well-being is of vital importance for the development and sustainability of entrepreneurs in society long-term. This project offers unique insights into the antecedents of entrepreneurs' mental well-being and its influence on performance of entrepreneurs exposed to various types of social support, positive and negative, online. More importantly, the project focuses on how entrepreneurs can cope mentally and perform economically when facing new challenges from online support exchanges. This understanding is important for firm survival rates, growth and development of society.