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Entrepreneurs learning together: The importance of building trust for learning and exploiting business opportunities

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Abstract

This longitudinal, qualitative case study examines trust-building processes and learning outcomes among entrepreneurs who participated in formal networks designed to develop competence and knowledge. This study is built on rich data collected through observation and video recordings made during network meetings and get-togethers. Additional data was gleaned from personal interviews with participating entrepreneurs. All data sources reveal on how trust develops and how entrepreneurs can use networks to learn and improve their capacity to exploit business opportunities. Studying how trust is built over time among entrepreneurs who demonstrate a low level of trust when they join the network, this study provides insights into micro-processes and important components of building trust. Findings suggest three processes that build commitment, companionship, and competence trust. Moreover, acknowledging the notion of social learning, the findings suggest that when entrepreneurs build trust with one another they can experience cognitive, emotional, and social changes by participating in a network. This may bring potential consequences for their exploiting opportunies. Implications for academics and managers are discussed.

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Bergh, P., Thorgren, S. & Wincent, J. Entrepreneurs learning together: The importance of building trust for learning and exploiting business opportunities. Int Entrep Manag J 7, 17–37 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11365-009-0120-9

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