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Entrepreneurship; learning to evolve


Breslin, D and Jones, C, Entrepreneurship; learning to evolve, Proceedings of the 34th Institute for Small Business & Entrepreneurship (ISBE) Conference, 9-10 November 2011, Sheffield, UK, pp. 1-12. ISBN 978-1-900862-23-3 (2011) [Refereed Conference Paper]

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Copyright 2011 ISBE

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Objectives: The aim of the paper is to present an evolutionary perspective on entrepreneurial learning whilst also accounting for fundamental ecological processes.

Prior Work: The paper builds on both evolutionary/ecological approaches to present a multi-level perspective on entrepreneurial learning. At the micro-level the paper focuses on the development of key recurring, knowledge components within the nascent and growing small business (Aldrich, 1999; Breslin, 2008; Burgelman, 1991; Jones, 2005; Penrose, 1959). A range of hierarchical levels (Baum and Singh, 1994) and different types of selection(Amburgey et aI., 1994) are accounted for in our approach, as are various mechanisms (Weber and Depew, 2003) that account for entrepreneurial learning.

Approach: The paper presents a timely review of literature in the fields of organizational evolution and general ecology. Key developments within the approach are then related to current research on entrepreneurial learning, with arguments presented in favour of adopting a multi-level evolutionary perspective that captures and explains hidden ecological process, such as niche-construction.

Results: Our evolutionary approach focuses attention on the multi-level development of key recurring knowledge components over time. While aspects of the approach share many features with the notion of entrepreneurial learning, the perspective can be used to develop a representation of the complexity of entrepreneurial learning at multiple levels (individual, group, organisation, industry, population) using the mechanisms of variation, selection and retention and other ecological mechanisms to outcome for learning processes.

Implications: An evolutionary approach offers researchers the opportunity to use the framework of variationselection-retention to develop a multi-level representation of organizational and entrepreneurial learning. In combination with reference to various ecological concepts, we explain the nature of the context of such learning. Building on research from a wide variety of traditions from language, psychology, economics, behaviour, culture and organization science, the conceptualization of entrepreneurial learning in this manner can shed new light on a well studied phenomenon and led to the cross-fertilization of ideas across domains.

Value: If entrepreneurial learning within small and growing businesses is conceptualized as a multi-level struggle for survival amongst competing knowledge components, this might have some interesting implications for the way in which entrepreneurs behave and make decisions. Future research should explore the extent to which interpreting survival and growth in these terms can impact upon the eventual evolution of small businesses.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:evolutionary theory, entrepreneurial learning, ecology
Research Division:Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Research Group:Other commerce, management, tourism and services
Research Field:Other commerce, management, tourism and services not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Economic Framework
Objective Group:Management and productivity
Objective Field:Technological and organisational innovation
UTAS Author:Jones, C (Dr Colin Jones)
ID Code:75608
Year Published:2011
Deposited By:Australian Innovation Research Centre
Deposited On:2012-02-07
Last Modified:2018-03-20
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