International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. *, *–* (2013) DOI: 10.1111/ijmr.12007
Entrepreneurial Learning: Past Research
and Future Challenges
Catherine L. Wang and Harveen Chugh
School of Management, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham Hill, Egham TW20 0EX, UK
Corresponding author email: email@example.com
Entrepreneurial learning (EL) has emerged as an important concept at the interface of entrepreneurship and organizational learning. Although EL research has gained momentum in the past decade, the literature is diverse, highly individualistic and fragmented, hindering the development of EL as a promising research area. In this paper, a systematic analysis of the EL literature is ﬁrst conducted in order to take stock of the theoretical and empirical development and identify research themes and developmental patterns of EL research. Second, three pairs of key learning types that deserve more attention in future research are discussed, namely individual and collective learning, exploratory and exploitative learning, and intuitive and sensing learning. These learning types correspond to three key challenges that are derived from the EL research gaps identiﬁed in the systematic literature analysis, and provide fruitful avenues for future research. Third, by exploring the three pairs of learning types, further insights are drawn from entrepreneurship and organizational learning to help to advance EL research, and also feed back to the entrepreneurship literature by discussing how these learning types can help to understand the challenges at the centre of debate in the entrepreneurship literature.
Entrepreneurial learning (EL) has emerged as a
promising area of research at the interface between
learning and the entrepreneurial context (Harrison
and Leitch 2005). Central to EL research are issues
pertinent not only to what entrepreneurs should or do
learn during the process of exploring and exploiting
This article is dedicated to Dr Jason Cope, a much valued
We thank Jason Cope, Mark Easterby-Smith, Yiannis
Gabriel, Ossie Jones, David J. Ketchen, Alice Lam, David
Rae and Paul Robson for their comments on this paper. A
previous version of the paper was presented at the Babson
College Entrepreneurship Research Conference 2010 and
the British Academy of Management Entrepreneurial Learning and Education Research Seminar 2011, and we thank the participants for their comments. Finally, we thank the editor, Ossie Jones, and three reviewers for their detailed and constructive comments.
an entrepreneurial opportunity in the creation of
new ventures or management of existing ﬁrms, but
more importantly, the speciﬁc processes of learning
that take place (Cope 2005). Simply put, how learning takes place and when learning takes place are fundamental to the understanding of the entrepreneurial process. As Minniti and Bygrave (2001, p. 7) assert, ‘entrepreneurship is a process of learning, and a theory of entrepreneurship requires a theory of learning’.
Entrepreneurial learning research has ﬂourished in
the past decade, and demonstrates several characteristics. First, while EL is broadly positioned at the interface of entrepreneurship and organizational
learning, existing studies have drawn from a wide
range of theoretical insights, including experiential
learning (e.g. Clarysse and Moray 2004; Cope 2003;
Minniti and Bygrave 2001), organizational learning
(e.g. Covin et al. 2006; Lant and Mezias 1990; Wang
2008), social cognitive theory (i.e. Erikson 2003),
© 2013 The Authors
International Journal of Management Reviews © 2013 British Academy of Management and Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA
C.L. Wang and H. Chugh
population ecology (i.e. Dencker et al. 2009) and
conﬁguration theory (i.e. Hughes et al. 2007),...
References: Abetti, P.A. (1997). The birth and growth of Toshiba’s laptop
and notebook computers: a case study in Japanese corporate venture
Almeida, P., Dokko, G. and Rosenkopf, L. (2003). Startup
size and the mechanisms of external learning: increasing
Alvarez, S.A. and Busenitz, L.W. (2001). The entrepreneurship of resource-based theory. Journal of Management,
Argyris, C. and Schön, D.A. (1978). Organizational Learning: a Theory of Action Perspective. Reading, MA:
Balasubramanian, N. (2011). New plant venture performance differences among incumbent, diversifying, and
entrepreneurial ﬁrms: the impact of industry learning
Baron, R.A. (1998). Cognitive mechanisms in entrepreneurship: why and when entrepreneurs think differently than
Baron, R.A. (2007). Behavioral and cognitive factors in
entrepreneurship: entrepreneurs as the active element in
Berglund, H., Hellström, L. and Sjölander, S. (2007). Entrepreneurial learning and the role of venture capitalists.
Bingham, C.B. and Davis, J.P. (2012). Learning sequences:
their existence, effect, and evolution
Blackburn, R. and Kovalainen, A. (2009). Research small
ﬁrms and entrepreneurship: past, present and future.
Boussouara, M. and Deakins, D. (1999). Market-based
learning, entrepreneurship and the high technology small
Breslin, D. (2008). A review of the evolutionary approach to
the study of entrepreneurship
Brigham, K.H. and De Castro, J.O. (2003). Entrepreneurial
ﬁt: the role of cognitive misﬁt
Brown, J.S. and Duguid, P. (1991). Organizational learning
and communities-of-practice: towards a uniﬁed view of
Brush, C.G. (2008). Pioneering strategies for entrepreneurial success. Business Horizons, 51, pp. 21–27.
Buenstorf, G. (2007). Creation and pursuit of entrepreneurial opportunities: an evolutionary economics
Burgoyne, J.G. and Hodgson, V.E. (1983). Natural learning
and managerial action: a phenomenological study in the
Busenitz, L.W., West, G.P., Shepherd, D., Nelson, T., Chandler, G.N. and Zacharakis, A. (2003). Entrepreneurship
research in emergence
Capello, R. (1999). Spatial transfer of knowledge in high
technology milieux: learning versus collective learning
Carayannis, E. (1998). Higher order technological learning
as determinant of market success in the multimedia arena;
Casson, M. (1982). The Entrepreneur. Totowa, NJ: Barnes
& Noble Books.
Chaston, I. (2009). Entrepreneurial Management in Small
Chaston, I., Badger, B. and Sadler-Smith, E. (2001). Organizational learning: an empirical assessment of process in
Choi, Y.R. and Shepherd, D.A. (2004). Entrepreneurs’ decisions to exploit opportunities. Journal of Management,
Chung, L.H. and Gibbons, P.T. (1997). Corporate entrepreneurship: the roles of ideology and social capital.
Clarysse, B. and Moray, N. (2004). A process study of
entrepreneurial team formation: the case of a researchbased spin-off
Cohen, W.M. and Levinthal, D.A. (1990). Absorptive capacity: a new perspective on learning and innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35, pp. 128–152.
Cope, J. (2003). Entrepreneurial learning and critical reﬂection: discontinuous events as triggers for ‘higher-level’
Cope, J. (2005). Toward a dynamic learning perspective of
Please join StudyMode to read the full document