Beyond ‘know-what’ and ‘know-how’ to ‘know-who’: enhancing human capital with social capital in an Australian start-up accelerator

Abstract

This study investigates the enhancement of human capital with social capital in a start-up accelerator and how this integration affects the entrepreneurial learning experience. In particular, it examines the relative importance of the three components ‘know-what’, ‘know-how’ and ‘know-who’. The study involved thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with participants in an Australian start-up accelerator that is delivered using ideas such as Design Thinking, the Business Model Canvas and Lean Start-up methodology. We find that although the programme emphasised ‘know-what’ and ‘know-how’, ‘know-who’ was most significant for participant learning. The results indicate that mentors and experts were especially helpful in shaping learning and in developing entrepreneurial networks. Moreover, our results show that the processes of ‘know-what’, ‘know-how’ and ‘know-who’ are interrelated – by knowing ‘who’, participants learnt ‘what’ and ‘how to’ through social learning. The research contributes to entrepreneurial learning theory and application particularly in the Asia Pacific context, by providing evidence that ‘know-who’ closes the learning loop for ‘know-what’ and ‘know-how’ as ‘know-who’ can actually provide entrepreneurs with the means to enhance their entrepreneurial self-efficacy.

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