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Online entrepreneurial communication: Mitigating uncertainty and increasing differentiation via Twitter


  • Fischer, Eileen
  • Rebecca Reuber, A.


Research shows that some narratives and symbolic actions produced by entrepreneurial firms can help to reduce audience uncertainty about their quality and differentiate them from rivals. But can communications via online social media channels – which we characterize as “communicative streams” – be used to reduce uncertainty and enhance differentiation? This seems debatable, given that such streams comprise multiple, brief messages (a) that encode signals lacking narrative cohesion; (b) are only fleetingly accessible; and (c) are minimally customized. We address this puzzle using qualitative methods to compare the communications enacted by eight firms that are using Twitter in order to pursue growth. Our theoretical contribution rests in positing links between specific types of communicative streams and audience responses that reflect reduced uncertainty or enhanced differentiation. Our analysis suggests that firms enacting a “Multi-dimensional” communicative stream (which entails a high volume of posts, a high proportion of which signal quality, relational orientation, distinctiveness, and positive affect) are most likely to elicit audience affirmation of firms' quality and/or distinctiveness. Implications for theory, research methods and practice are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Fischer, Eileen & Rebecca Reuber, A., 2014. "Online entrepreneurial communication: Mitigating uncertainty and increasing differentiation via Twitter," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 565-583.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbvent:v:29:y:2014:i:4:p:565-583
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusvent.2014.02.004

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fischer, Eileen & Reuber, A. Rebecca, 2011. "Social interaction via new social media: (How) can interactions on Twitter affect effectual thinking and behavior?," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 1-18, January.
    2. Ted Fuller & Yumiao Tian, 2006. "Social and Symbolic Capital and Responsible Entrepreneurship: An Empirical Investigation of SME Narratives," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 67(3), pages 287-304, September.
    3. Jean Clarke, 2011. "Revitalizing Entrepreneurship: How Visual Symbols are Used in Entrepreneurial Performances," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48, pages 1365-1391, September.
    4. Reuber, A. Rebecca & Fischer, Eileen, 2011. "International entrepreneurship in internet-enabled markets," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 660-679.
    5. Scott Shane & Daniel Cable, 2002. "Network Ties, Reputation, and the Financing of New Ventures," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(3), pages 364-381, March.
    6. Baron, Robert A. & Markman, Gideon D., 2003. "Beyond social capital: the role of entrepreneurs' social competence in their financial success," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 41-60, January.
    7. Muzyka, Dan & Birley, Sue & Leleux, Benoit, 1996. "Trade-offs in the investment decisons of European venture capitalists," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 273-287, July.
    8. Elizabeth Goodrick & Trish Reay, 2010. "Florence Nightingale Endures: Legitimizing a New Professional Role Identity," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 55-84, January.
    9. Reuber, A. Rebecca & Fischer, Eileen, 2007. "Don't rest on your laurels: Reputational change and young technology-based ventures," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 363-387, May.
    10. Fournier, Susan & Avery, Jill, 2011. "The uninvited brand," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 193-207, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Smith, Claudia & Smith, J. Brock & Shaw, Eleanor, 2017. "Embracing digital networks: Entrepreneurs' social capital online," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 18-34.
    2. repec:kap:sbusec:v:50:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11187-017-9876-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Fisher, Greg & Kuratko, Donald F. & Bloodgood, James M. & Hornsby, Jeffrey S., 2017. "Legitimate to whom? The challenge of audience diversity and new venture legitimacy," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 52-71.
    4. repec:eee:jbvent:v:32:y:2017:i:6:p:707-725 is not listed on IDEAS


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