Social capital effects on the discovery and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities

  • Mariano Nieto
  • Nuria González-Álvarez


Social capital refers to social networks and the norms of reciprocity, cooperation and trust associated with them. It can be studied at different levels of analysis. As previous literature suggests, social capital has aspects at both the individual and collective levels. However, theory development and empirical research have focused on separate, sometimes diverging levels. In an attempt to address this, this research examines the simultaneous influence of individual and regional social capital on the discovery and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities using individual-level data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor linked with regional-level data on social capital. The results show that individuals from regions with higher social capital are more likely to discover and to exploit entrepreneurial opportunities. Moreover, individuals having networks with other entrepreneurs are also more likely to identify a business opportunity and to become an entrepreneur. Also, we found that social capital at individual level had a greater effect than social capital at regional level in the two stages of the entrepreneurial process.


Regional social capital Individual social capital Discovery and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities GEM 



The authors are grateful for financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology (ECO2012-35439).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Dirección y Economía de la EmpresaUniversidad de LeónLeónSpain

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