Exploring the relationship between media coverage and participation in entrepreneurship: Initial global evidence and research implications

Using a set of variables measured in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) study, our empirical investigation explored the influence of mass media through national culture on national entrepreneurial participation rates in 37 countries over 4 years (2000 to 2003). We found that stories about successful entrepreneurs, conveyed in mass media, were not significantly associated with the rate of nascent (opportunity searching) or the rate of actual (business activities commenced up to 3 months old) start-up activity, but that there was a significant positive association between the volume of entrepreneurship media stories and a nation’s volume of people running a young business (that is in GEM terminology, a business aged greater than 3 but less than 42 months old). More particularly, such stories had strong positive association with opportunity oriented operators of young businesses. Together, these findings are compatible with what in the mass communications theory literature may be called the ‘reinforcement model’. This argues that mass media are only capable of reinforcing their audience’s existing values and choice propensities but are not capable of shaping or changing those values and choices. In the area covered by this paper, policy-makers are committing public resources to media campaigns of doubtful utility in the absence of an evidence base. A main implication drawn from this study is the need for further and more sophisticated investigation into the relationship between media coverage of entrepreneurship, national culture and the rates and nature of people’s participation in the various stages of the entrepreneurial process.

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