Social networks of online rural entrepreneurs: the case of Turkey


Yaşlak B. , Akgün A. A. , Baycan T.

ANNALS OF REGIONAL SCIENCE, 2021 (SSCI İndekslerine Giren Dergi) identifier identifier

Özet

Rural communities are intensively based on social capital, the potential of which might seem limited in terms of the possibility to expand beyond rural areas. Today, entrepreneurs, the main actors in achieving and sustaining rural development, have a unique opportunity in the exploitation of social capital in rural areas by utilizing the digital platforms. These new online entrepreneurs have become critical to the success of rural areas as they mobilize online resources to exploit the full potential of their local products in the global economy, thus remaining local while acting global. This process is illustrated by the development of the alternative food network as well as social networks that connect rural potential to the rest of the world. This paper aims to understand the role of such social networks in e-commerce by analysing entrepreneurial characteristics and the ecosystem of their enterprises through case studies. In addition, the network characteristics of chosen enterprises are examined under three main subjects: (i) types of relations with rural residents; (ii) relations with suppliers (both producers and logistics); and iii) the extent of their networks in the e-marketplace. Online entrepreneurs whose business is related to rural agricultural products are selected as case study examples. The data are derived from the results of interviews, and visuals are used to map out their entrepreneurial networks and ecosystems. The conclusions of this paper are: (i) by using online channels, rural entrepreneurs are able to broaden their market; (ii) agricultural lands are being protected since rural entrepreneurs use the potentials of local natural resources; and (iii) these enterprises are financially self-sustaining. The positive impact on local rural development by online rural entrepreneurs is obvious. However, to expand this impact on a regional scale, the promotion of public policies and planning are necessary.