Academic journal article Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

Entrepreneurial Learning: Researching the Interface between Learning and the Entrepreneurial Context

Academic journal article Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

Entrepreneurial Learning: Researching the Interface between Learning and the Entrepreneurial Context

Article excerpt

The context for the research presented in this article arises from increasing interest, by academics and practitioners, in the importance of learning and knowledge in the knowledge-based economy. In particular, we consider the scope for applying concepts of learning within the field of entrepreneurship. While it has gained currency within the field of management, the application of these concepts to entrepreneurship has been limited. In this Introduction to the Special Issue, we review the development of the field of entrepreneurship as a context for the emergence of learning as an area of scholarly attention, summarize a number of key themes emerging from the organizational learning literature, and outline the article selection process and summarize the key elements of each of the included articles. The article concludes with some reflections on future research at the interface between learning and the entrepreneurial context.

Introduction

There is a burgeoning interest in organizational learning--the acquisition by an organization or any of its units, of knowledge that it recognizes as potentially useful for the organization--and the learning organization in the organizational and managerial literatures (Dierkes, Berthoin Anthal, Child, & Nonaka, 2001; Easterby-Smith & Lyles, 2003; Easterby-Smith, Burgoyne, & Araujo, 1999; Starkey, 1996). Although the link between learning and organizational effectiveness is far from proven, logically or empirically, the interest in organizational learning has been underpinned by a set of beliefs about the importance of learning in organizational adaptation and flexibility in conditions of change and uncertainty (Moingeon & Edmundson, 1996). According to Easterby-Smith and Lyles (2003), the fields of organizational learning and knowledge management have developed rapidly over the past decade or so, in terms of both the volume and the diversity of the research being undertaken. In particular they highlight four characteristics of the field. First, it is characterized by both novelty and diversity, much of the research has been undertaken since 1990, even 1995, and this makes it problematic to satisfactorily discern trends and a cumulative sense of development. Second, the field is increasingly diverse and specialized, with the consequence that much research is being undertaken in parallel traditions without cross-reference or cross-fertilization. Third, this diversity in research has stimulated debates and arguments around definitions and terminology, the meanings of concepts, methodological issues, applications and influences on organizational learning processes, and the purposes to which new knowledge of organizational learning and knowledge management should be put. Finally, despite the diversity of the research, there are a relatively small number of core references and citations, which suggest an underlying commonality in the held to which the majority of current scholars refer.

Relatively little of this research has been explored within the entrepreneurship tradition, nor has the entrepreneurial context informed much of the organizational learning literature. In this Special Issue, we bring together a number of articles which deal with a variety of entrepreneurship issues and draw on the diverse range of literature on organizational learning, to contribute to both theory development and practice within the filed of entrepreneurship. It has been argued, in the context of the evolution of entrepreneurship as a field of study, that "the conscious and critical transfer and application of theories and methodologies from one research area to another may stimulate creative advances in both, and may provide the basis ik)r the resolution of old problems in new ways" (Harrison & Leitch, 1994, p. 112). Fiet (2000b, p. 12) agrees with this perspective and observes:

   All theories in the social sciences, including those that examine
   entrepreneurs, are in some way inaccurate, contradictory, or
   incomplete. … 
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.