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Nils Gustafsson (2020)

Nils Gustafsson

elite networks, political communication & social media

Nils Gustafsson (2020)

Becoming a business student : Negotiating identity and social contacts during the first three months of an elite business education


  • Anna Tyllström
  • Nils Gustafsson
  • Gergei Farkas

Summary, in English

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.


  • Institutionen för strategisk kommunikation








Institute for Futures Studies Working Paper






Working paper


Institute for Futures Studies


  • Economics and Business
  • Sociology
  • Information Systems, Social aspects


  • social network analysis
  • gender studies
  • career paths
  • higher education




  • Nätvärde. En longitudinell studie av kvinnors och mäns sociala nätverk i svensk civilekonomutbildning