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A Study on Entrepreneurial Action Learning and Its Effectiveness Mechanism

Author: ChenYanNi
Tutor: WangZhongMing
School: Zhejiang University
Course: Entrepreneurial Management
Keywords: Entrepreneurial Learning Action Learning Resource Network Facilitative Leadership Entrepreneurial Performance
CLC: F270
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2013
Downloads: 279
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The high failure rate in entrepreneurship is a common phenomenon in China. It is well known that entrepreneurs’learning behaviors play an important role to develop the new ventures. To research how entrepreneurs learn effectively is obviously a crucial topic. On the basis of previous research on entrepreneurial learning (EL) and action learning (AL), this dissertation systematically examined the learning behaviors of entrepreneurs and proposed a new construct named entrepreneurial action learning (EAL). The following key issues were explored:(1) What key conceptual elements were EAL (1st and2nd study);(2) What key factors affected EAL (3rd study);(3) What the mechanism of EAL was in on affecting entrepreneurial performance (4th study).In the first study, we developed the construct of EAL by adopting a multi-case study. With a systematic review of prior researches on EL and AL, the study developed the new concept of EAL with the four phases’framework of experiential learning. Four cases were selected to study action learning for entrepreneurs. By multiple manners of data collection such as site visit, in-depth interview, periodic review and observation, we structurally analyzed the case materials through the within and cross-case analysis. As a result, we extracted four meaningful elements of EAL, i.e., experience search, interactive reflection, systematic integration and action verification. The learning principle of each element and correlations between them were investigated.In the second study, the methods of interview and questionnaire were combined to develop and verify the scale of EAL. Based on the framework developed in the first study, initial data were collected from focus-group interviews, the items were verified according to the advices of experts. A pilot study was conducted to examine the adequacy of items and an exploratory factor analysis carried out. A confirmative factor analysis was used to verify the structure of EAL, by using structure equation modeling. The convergent validity and discriminant validity of EAL were tested. Ultimately, we developed a scale of EAL with acceptable reliability and validity.In the third study, we examined the antecedents of EAL by questionnaire survey. As the EAL is a process construct, we examined the inter correlation among the four elements. In its essence, EAL is a typical learning behavior presented entrepreneurship. We therefore proposed that two kinds of entrepreneurs’behaviors toward entrepreneurial tasks (challenging working experiences and learning orientation) are the important influencing factors to EAL. The empirical results revealed that the four elements of EAL constituted a process, challenging working experiences and learning orientation were positively correlated with four elements of EAL.In the fourth study, the mechanism of EAL was examined. As entrepreneurs were chief leaders of ventures, we adopted the view of resource network and facilitative leadership capability to study how entrepreneurial learning behaviors enhanced the entrepreneurial performance. By promoting two aspects of their competence (resource network and facilitative leadership), EAL may significantly affected entrepreneurial performance. Through the analysis of matched questionnaires from73ventures, we found that the EAL was positively associated with the entrepreneurial performance through the resource network capability (UNC) and facilitative leadership capability (FLC). Specifically, UNC mediated the positive relationship between three elements of EAL and entrepreneurial performance except systematic integration, while the FLC mediated the relationship between two elements of EAL (experience search and interactive reflection) and entrepreneurial performance. These results addressed the dual mechanisms of EAL and entrepreneurial performances cross team and organization level.In sum, we systematically concluded with theoretical contributions to the new concept of EAL, the theory of entrepreneurial learning and developmental theory of ventures. Practical implications and limitations and future research directions of this study were addressed.

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