Academic journal article New England Journal of Entrepreneurship

Inquiring into Entrepreneurial Orientation: Making Progress, One Step at a Time

Academic journal article New England Journal of Entrepreneurship

Inquiring into Entrepreneurial Orientation: Making Progress, One Step at a Time

Article excerpt

ore than 25 years have passed since Jeff Covin and Dennis Slevin published a Strategic Management Journal article on firm strategy in the face of environmental hostility, formalizing the idea of "entrepreneurial strategic posture" (Covin & Slevin, 1989). The article argued, in the context of small manufacturing firms, that superior performance accrues to firms that adopt an entrepreneurial strategy in hostile environments and a conservative strategy in benign environments. It built on Covin and Prescott's (1985) introduction of the "entrepreneurial orientation" (EO) construct and proposed a nine-item scale for its measurement. Within a few years, Lumpkin and Dess (1996) followed with a theoretical exposition and conceptual extension of the EO construct and its link to firm performance.

Fast forward to 2016: EO is now widely acknowledged as one of the most central and prominent concepts in all of management science. Table 1 lists key contributions to the EO literature over the years.

The journey of EO, from its initial development to today, has been long and eventful. Like many managerial concepts, EO research has evolved in a way that resembles the first three stages of the product life-cycle: introduction, growth, and maturity. We summarize select (key) EO publications over the three stages in Panel 1 A.

The origination of EO is often traced back to Mintzberg (1973) who was the first to publicly appreciate the potential of an entrepreneurial strategy-making mode. Khandwalla (1976) conducted some initial empirical work on entrepreneurial strategy in Indian firms, which was followed by Miller's (1983: 771) articulation of an entrepreneurial firm as one that "engages in productmarket innovation, undertakes somewhat risky ventures, and is first to come up with "proactive" innovations, beating competitors to the punch.'The publication of Covin and Slevin (1989) and Lumpkin and Dess (1996) established EO in the upper echelons of the publication hierarchy, opening the path to the next phase of research in this area.

Following the publication of these seminal works that laid the foundations of EO, research in this stream really picked up during the growth phase, which we classify as the period from 1996 to 2008. During this timeframe, researchers not only worked to refine the understanding of the construct and its measurement but also began to examine the nature of its relationship with firm-level outcomes, notably firm survival, performance, growth, and also the impact of various contingencies on these relationships. Knight (1997) utilized the ENTRESCALE developed by Khandwalla (1977), and later refined by Miller and Friesen (1978) and Covin and Slevin (1989), to carry out a study on French-speaking entrepreneurs of firms based in Quebec (Canada). Lyon, Lumpkin, and Dess (2000) took a different approach to enhance EO research, identifying the three dominant approaches used to measure the EO construct and test its relationships with other constructs: managerial perception, firm behavior, and resource allocations.The authors identified relative advantages and disadvantages of each of three approaches and suggested that future research would benefit from a triangulation approach.

The next few years saw a burgeoning of research examining the nature of different moderating influences on the EO-performance relationship. Lumpkin and Dess (2001 ) carried out a study to link two dimensions of EO (proactiveness and competitive aggressiveness) on performance under the contingent impact of industry life cycle.The authors demonstrated that proactiveness and competitive aggressiveness emerge as two distinct factors in terms of how entrepreneurs visualize their impact on firm performance, with the former having a positive relationship with performance and the latter a negative relationship. Further, the industry life-cycle stage the firm was in also had an impact, with proactive firms enhancing their performance in the early stages of the life cycle and competitively aggressive firms bettering their performance in late and mature stages. …

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