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Beyond
observing that entrepreneurs need to exploit their social capital, there is
some theoretical effort to borrow from the field of psychology. Studdard and
Munchus (2009, p. 243) borrow the concept of proactive help-seeking behavior,
defined as “a behavioral mechanism in which an individual actively tries to
acquire assistance from the environment when a gap in knowledge exists”, and
argue that how entrepreneurs use proactive help-seeking behavior to acquire
business and technical knowledge during the development of new venture creation
should be explored. Studdard & Munchus (2009, p. 234) explain:

Conceptually,
proactive help-seeking entrepreneurial behavior entails the process of actively
seeking the assistance of another individual or firm. The firm’s founder,
owner, or management team recognises the deficiency in a specific type of
knowledge, required for firm formation and development, and actively seeks help
from known entities thereby enhancing the knowledge resources for the
entrepreneurial firm.

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This is seen through the lens of the resource
based view (Barney, 1991); in the early phase of venture creation, i.e. in the
early process of exploiting an opportunity, the entrepreneurs face several
critical resource constraints as most resources are found outside the firm, in
the possession of various individuals and organizations in the external
environment. However, individuals are often negligent in seeking help, even
when help is readily available, due to three social cost factors (Lee et al.,
2003; Lee, 2002). Initially, the individual does not want to acknowledge
incompetence in a particular knowledge driven area to another individual (Lee
et al., 2003; Lee, 2002). Second, an individual does not want to appear
inferior to other individuals within the environment (Lee et al., 2003; Lee,
2002). The appearance of inferiority might suggest to others in the environment
that the help-seeker is unable to solve a problem or independently find a
solution. Further, the help-seeker will be forced to acknowledge another
individual’s superiority in knowledge, skills, and resources in a specialized
area within the community. Thirdly, the social cost factor revealed that an
individual will not seek help because of the desire not to suggest dependence
on and powerlessness to another individual (Lee et al., 2003; Lee, 2002)

Therefore, not only must entrepreneurs be able to
recognize deficiencies in their resources, but they must also be able to
navigate internal psychological barriers when­ trying to obtain these missing
resources, while at the same time weighing the perceived social cost and
benefits of doing so.

Tocher et al. (2015) conceptually tie social
competence to opportunity creation (as opposed to discovery); the authors
highlight the relationship between social capital and social competence, and
how these two facilitate the entrepreneurs’ ability to “develop imagined
business ideas into marked realities” (Tocher et al., 205, p. 120). The authors
argue from a creation view of opportunities as proposed by Foss et al., (2008)
and Wood and McKinley (2010), that “ideas for new market offerings are created
over time via a path-dependent, socially complex, iterative process between
entrepreneurs and interested parties” (Tocher et al., 205, p. 131).

To put this in other terms, social capital allows
the entrepreneurs to get feedback their business idea, and the more people available
in their network, the more feedback they will be able to harness for sensemaking
(Weick, 1995). After
the initial round of feedback, the entrepreneurs’ social competence helps them
convince stakeholders to support them in launching their venture. In this
light, opportunity creation and exploitation is a social process, opening the
door to borrow theory and concepts from behavioral science and sociology.

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