Entrepreneurial Methods as Vehicles of Entrepreneurial Action
Doctoral thesis, 2017
Entrepreneurship in general and entrepreneurship education in particular are becoming more accredited and institutionalized. This is evidenced by a large number of entrepreneurship courses and programs offered in top-tier universities worldwide. However, with some notable exceptions such as effectuation and the lean startup methodology, this trend has not been matched by the formulation and dissemination of hands-on knowledge and actionable theories that aim to aid entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship students, startup coaches, and accelerator managers. Moreover, the existing theories have typically been developed in isolation and often without explicit consideration of issues that reflect their pragmatic validity. This has rendered them into separate silos of knowledge that neither interact with nor build on each other and resulted in their impracticality, betraying their core application. The purpose of this dissertation is, therefore, to examine the general form of such theories, reflect on the specific content of their prescriptions, gain insights into their application and explore issues in relation to their pragmatic value.
Through theoretical and empirical studies, this dissertation seeks to develop and advance the current understanding of entrepreneurial methods. As part of the theoretical efforts, a number of concepts and terms are introduced by way of reviewing nine entrepreneurial methods. Entrepreneurial method, as a broad unifying concept, refers to theories that package a coherent set of principles of thought and action that helps entrepreneurs to structure their venture development activities. Moreover, as an organizing framework for understanding the general form and content of entrepreneurial methods, a hierarchical three-tier framework composed of logic, model, and tactics is proposed. Furthermore, a careful and detailed review of the existing entrepreneurial methods provides deep insights into their constituting, prescriptive content. These contributions synthesize new avenues to compare, contrast and make sense of entrepreneurial methods and open up windows for improvements in their prescriptions and structure.
Empirical studies focus on the workings of a prevalent instance of entrepreneurial method, namely the lean startup methodology. They examine, in different ways, the impact of incorporating the lean startup methodology into the ongoing processes of two separate startup accelerators. These studies shine a light on how the lean startup methodology influences entrepreneurs by unpacking the learning mechanisms involved in incorporating the principles of the methodology into entrepreneurs’ theory of action. Moreover, the findings show how following the methodology can fundamentally impact the form, content, and organization of entrepreneur-coach relationships in the context of prescriptive accelerators. Taken together, in addition to taking stock of the current trend toward explicit attempts to guide entrepreneurial action, such an examination can enable attempts to modify and further develop the existing entrepreneurial methods, and potentially guide the formulation of new entrepreneurial methods.
prescriptive theories of entrepreneurial action