Academic journal article Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

Entrepreneurial Orientation Theory and Research: Reflections on a Needed Construct

Academic journal article Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

Entrepreneurial Orientation Theory and Research: Reflections on a Needed Construct

Article excerpt

This article introduces the Special Issue of Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice on the topic of Entrepreneurial Orientation (EO). In addition to overviewing the preparation and structure of the Special Issue, this article addresses various substantive matters pertinent to the continuing development of EO theory and research including (1) the issue of whether EO is more defensibly conceived of as a dispositional or behavioral construct; (2) the reasons why EO is regarded by some as an "annoying construct," and what might be done about it; (3) the reasons why the concept of EO fills an important gap in the literature on firm-level entrepreneurship; (4) a proposal that EO theory and research proceed along two concurrent paths corresponding the unidimensional and multidimensional conceptualizations of the construct; (5) a review of EO measurement issues focused on why, in particular, it is problematic to conceive of and measure EO as a formative construct; and (6) a brief consideration of both marginal-value and high-potential topic areas for future EO theory and research.

Introduction

Research on the topic of entrepreneurial orientation (EO) has existed for decades. Most researchers credit Danny Miller (1983) with introducing the concept of EO to the scholarly literature, although he never employed the term EO in his initial writings on this topic. A search of the ABI/INFORM database using the phrase "entrepreneurial orientation" reveals that by the end of 2010, the concept of EO had been referenced in 256 scholarly journal articles. One hundred and nine of these 256 articles were published between January 2008 and December 2010. In comparison, by the end of 2010, the phrase "corporate entrepreneurship" was referenced in 242 articles, with 66 of these published between January 2008 and December 2010. Two notable conclusions can be drawn from these figures. First, the concept of EO has eclipsed as a focus of scholarly attention the ostensibly "larger" topical domain of corporate entrepreneurship within which discussions about EO occur. That is, within the field of entrepreneurship, there is now greater attention paid to the topic of EO than to corporate entrepreneurship, although many scholars consider EO to be an aspect of corporate entrepreneurship. Second, research on the topic of EO is growing at an increasing rate. When these two facts are combined with the results of a recent meta-analysis suggesting that EO is a significant predictor of firm performance (Rauch, Wiklund, Lumpkin, & Frese, 2009), it becomes clear that the scholarly community is very interested in EO and that EO is an important phenomenon in a practical sense.

Nonetheless, a review of the scholarly literature on EO reveals some fragmentations regarding how the concept is portrayed in writings on the topic as reflected in the lack of consensus on matters such as the essential nature of the construct, its dimensionality, the nomological network within which EO exists, and the appropriate definition(s) of the concept. Given the current state of the literature, we believe it is time to recognize the critical points of contention and ambiguity surrounding the EO concept as well as to move the scholarly conversation forward through offering examples of high-quality EO research and suggestions for high-potential research foci.

Toward these ends, we are pleased to have served as the guest coeditors of this Special Issue of Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice on the topic of EO. In preparing this Special Issue, we solicited essays from scholars at various career stages, but all with proven records of EO thought leadership. A total of 10 articles are included in this Special Issue. Following this introductory article, we are fortunate to have Danny Miller leading off the issue with a retrospective commentary on his seminal 1983 article and thoughts about how EO knowledge advancements might best occur. Six articles are then offered as examples of high-quality EO research by leading scholars in the field. …

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