The impact of entrepreneurs’ prior experience and communication networks on perceived knowledge access

Wei Shi, Matthew Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Entrepreneurs approach the startup process with a stock of experience and a unique range of accumulated skills and abilities. Their prior experience shapes an “information funnel” through which the entrepreneurs’ attention is filtered. This study aims to investigate the impact of the relatedness of prior knowledge and knowledge acquisition activities on entrepreneurs’ perceived knowledge access. Design/methodology/approach: Survey data were collected from 100 early-stage entrepreneurs in the New York City metropolitan area to empirically test the proposed relationships with the method of conditional process modeling. Findings: Findings from this study demonstrate a negative relationship between entrepreneurs’ prior experience and their perceived ability to access knowledge. However, this negative relationship can be mitigated by seeking tacit knowledge through informal channels. In addition, the relatedness of prior experience plays a positive role in influencing media use and knowledge network engagement. While media use is a positive predictor of perceived knowledge access, engagement within knowledge networks shows no direct influence on perceived knowledge access. Originality/value: This study sheds light on the dimensions of entrepreneurial knowledge and recognizes perceived knowledge access as an important concept in forming an entrepreneurial intention and adds to the current dialogue on the interpretation of entrepreneurs’ prior experience. For practitioners, this study offers insights into the formation of founding teams and the approaches to obtaining valuable information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1406-1426
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Knowledge Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


  • Entrepreneurship
  • Knowledge network
  • Knowledge search
  • Media use
  • Prior experience
  • Tacit knowledge


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