How do different sources of social influence impact the likelihood of entrepreneurship? Using a longitudinal field experiment with a pre-test/post-test design, random assignment to an entrepreneur mentor of a student increases the likelihood of entrepreneurial careers, particularly for students whose parents were not entrepreneurs. Additional analysis shows the mentor influences the decision to join an early-stage venture, but not to become a founder. Performance data suggests that entrepreneurial influence is not encouraging “worse” entrepreneurship and may have helped students in joining or founding better-performing ventures. This contributes to the literature on social influence in entrepreneurship by examining the interaction between multiple sources of social influence and by using a randomized field experiment to overcome the endogenous process of tie formation.
Whether or not a student founds or co-founds a venture after completing their studies. Whether or not a student joins a venture as an early employee after completing their studies.
Students assigned to entrepreneur mentors are more likely to pursue a start-up career by joining an early-stage venture.The effect is concentrated among students that do not have entrepreneur parents and stronger for those that had two instead of only one mentor during the course. Having an entrepreneur mentor instead of a non-entrepreneur mentor does not influence students’ decision to start their own venture.