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Social influence and entrepreneurship: the effect of university peers on entrepreneurial entry


Organization Science


Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Authors / Editors

Kacperczyk A

Publication Year



Theories of entrepreneurship have proposed that entrepreneurs are shaped by contextual influences. This paper examines the social transmission of entrepreneurial behavior across university peers. I propose that peers acquainted at a university increase the probability of an entrepreneurial entry by transmitting information about new opportunities and by reducing the uncertainty associated with entrepreneurship. Based on unique data on hedge fund foundings between 1979 and 2006, this study documents that past entrepreneurial behaviors of university peers are an important driver of individual rates of entrepreneurship. Additional analyses show that social influence has a stronger effect on the transition to entrepreneurship when exerted by spatially proximate university peers and university peers who share gender with the focal individual. These findings provide evidence that the effect of university peers arises as a result of social influence rather than the institutional impact of universities. Together, the results uncover novel pathways of social transmission of entrepreneurship and strengthen evidence for the role of contextual influences in shaping entrepreneurial entry.


Entrepreneurship; Economic sociology; Economics and organization; Diffusion of innovation; Technology and innovation management

Available on ECCH


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