ICT, Online Weak Ties and Female Entrepreneurship -- a Case Study of a Chamber of Commerce in Guangxi, China

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 11:18
Oral Presentation
Lulu LI, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Jing SONG, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Siyuan ZHOU, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been viewed as a crucial vehicle that shapes a networked society. Studies on social networks and Guanxi have illustrated important and complicated interactions of career development and social connections. But limited attention has been paid to social network in the online context and with a gender perspective. This study of Chinese female entrepreneurship focuses on a chamber of commerce that has more than 500 members in Guangxi province in China. Based on virtual ethnography in a Wechat group and in-depth interviews with members in this chamber, we find that (1) weak ties in online community benefit its members greatly in doing business by building useful information channels and offline social networks, and (2) the utilization of weak ties that are derived from online communities helps female entrepreneurs to overcome difficulties that may be gender-specific, such as extending networks in a male dominated sphere of commerce and promoting projects in cost-effective ways. To summarize, the development of the information communication technology, especially instant messaging, and weak ties built in this context provide more opportunities for female entrepreneurship and women's agency in the business world.