Author: Edward Gonsalves
Open University Business School & Visiting Lecturer, European Business School
The theoretical role of organizational learning in entrepreneurship strategy has been largely limited to in-depth case analysis both empirically and as method. Such developments reflect the diverse nature of entrepreneurial phenomena, definitional controversy over what constitutes entrepreneurship, the emergence of entrepreneurship as a semi-autonomous discipline within contemporary organizational inquiry and the competing demands of managerial, educational and industrial-policy interests. Secondly, learning approaches to entrepreneurial theory have in the main confined themselves to cognitive and experiential perspectives of knowledge as a source of value-creation. Nevertheless there is a growing consensus that frameworks, which seek to examine the role of organizational learning within entrepreneurship strategy research, are necessary. Mintzberg & Waters' (1985) work on deliberate and emergent strategy formation is one of the central pieces of literature in what has been described as the 'process' school of strategy. This paper adopts a process-based approach when examining entrepreneurship strategies. It elaborates a typology of strategy formation processes based on Mintzberg's (1988) definition of strategy as a pattern in a stream of actions. The survey-based research reported is derived from a UK project (Gray & Gonsalves, 2002), and builds on the Mintzberg & Waters’ postulate that ‘emergent strategies imply learning that works’ to hypothesise a relationship between senior managers’ orientations to organizational learning, strategy making and environmental uncertainty. The paper cons iders the methodological debate within entrepreneurial studies by attending to the structure-agency debate as duality rather than dualism. The paper also argues that a multidimensional approach to theorising... [continues]
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