Digital tools have enabled cross-border networking for identifying and creating new business opportunities, developing global partnerships and implementing innovative business models. It is important to study changing forms online networking and challenges networkers face. Our research goal is to understand networking priorities, enablers and barriers that are influenced by age, personal career aspirations, entrepreneurial orientations, applied digital tools and international business development stages of networkers. We concentrate mainly on following research problems: Which factors support or inhibit face-to-face and online networking readiness; How entrepreneurs and managers build competences in cross-border entrepreneurial and business co-operation? Research project integrates entrepreneurship and innovation studies with developing online networking tools for international business.
This research project is interdisciplinary by nature and draws on the theory of open innovation (Chesbrough et al., 2006). Developers of the classical Uppsala research stream interpreted internationalization as a step-by-step learning process and also explained the role of business relationship learning (Johanson and Vahlne, 2003). These finding can be re-framed in the context of recent developments of digital tools, online media and blended entrepreneurial learning. Networking skills are crucial as the social and cultural framework of family, friends, peer entrepreneurs and role models is key to the decision making process that can lead to founding innovative businesses. (World Economic Forum, 2014). There is already extensive literature on social media and general trends in online social networking but the research gap is in insufficient understanding, how success factors in different types of business networking are linked to individual versus co-creative orientation of networkers, to their cross-border business development aspirations, type of the business model to be developed and implemented, stage in the entrepreneurial or managerial life cycle, to earlier experience and age-related networking readiness factors. Understanding these determinants in the context of ethical challenges and privacy risks, related to online networking, enables more holistic research approach but also context-sensitive research results that can be applied in entrepreneurial networks and in business learning.
Our methodology is based on the mixed method approach that supports constructivist research. Data collection methods are based on using existing databases (i.e. Global Entrepreneurship Monitoring data), questionnaire surveys among students, entrepreneurs and managers and interviews with experts. Research design also involves analysis of best practice cases, content analysis of communication in online networks and action research by reflecting application of new online and offline networking tools. Results of Lead4Skills and NordPlus Nordic Ideation camp are used and new international research co-operation initiatives developed.
Selected literature references of the research group:
- Elenurm, T., 2012. Entrepreneurial orientations of business students and entrepreneurs. Baltic Journal of Management, 7(2), pp. 217-231.
- Elenurm, T., 2015. Combining Cross-Border Online Teams and Field Projects in Developing Entrepreneurial Competencies. In: V.Taras, and M.AS. Gonzalez-Perez, eds. The Palgrave Handbook of Experiential Learning in International Business. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 186-201.
- Elenurm, T. and Moisala, A. 2008. Human Resources for Entrepreneurship: Comparing Orientations of Estonian and Finnish Business Students. European Journal of International Management, 2(4), pp. 454 - 470.
- Sula, O. and Elenurm, T. 2017. Strategic Role of Social Networking and Personal Knowledge Management Competencies for Future Entrepreneurs. In: V. Benson, G. Saridakis and R. Tuninga, eds. Analyzing the Strategic Role of Social Networking in Firm Growth and Productivity. IGI Global, pp. 248-266.
- Kooskora, M. and Reittilä, E. 2017. Building Blocks of Decision-Making: Perceived Quality of Organisational by Knowledge Workers in Finnish Organisations. In: SGEM Conference Proceedings: International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conferences on Social Sciences & Arts, 2: SGEM 2017. Bulgaria. SGEM, pp. 43−50..
- Kooskora, M. 2015. Building Capacity for CSR through Supportive Initiatives in Estonia. In: Idowu, S, O. Ed, Key Initiatives in Corporate Social Responsibility Global Dimension of CSR in Corporate Entities, Springer, pp. 243−260),