Tyllström, Anna , Gustafsson, Nils & Gergei Farkas | 2022
Institutet för framtidsstudier, working paper 2022:13, 23 sidor.
We know that informal networks explain differences in career success. Historical differences in business careers of men and women have frequently been explained with differences in informal networks. We also know that corporations tend to recruit future leaders and professionals from highly ranked business schools, and that important social networks form among the students there. However, it is not fully known how these networks form initially, and how they develop over time. In this first report from an ongoing longitudinal study of networking among students of four business schools in Sweden and Finland, we explore networking and socializing during the first term of education. The data that is reported here were collected in 2019, i.e. before the COVID-19 pandemic.
We find that the first few weeks of education are crucial for networking: they present an “open window” for making new friends. This process is aided by structured efforts by the schools and the student unions which facilitate networking. We also find that expectations of networking can be felt as stressful by some students, as well as there being strong tendencies of homophily regarding gender and ethnicity among students. From the students’ point of view, however, the friends they make seem to be the result of random encounters. Being socialized into becoming a business student also means relating to and often challenging a perceived stereotype of the (male) business student. The report ends with pointing toward the need for establishing an intersectional and longitudinal approach to the study of networking.