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  • 2019carterphd

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From fragmentation to integration: an interpretive analysis of entrepreneurial learning during social engagement

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
  • Jenni Carter
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Publication date2019
Number of pages223
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Existing entrepreneurial learning literature is fragmented, with a divide between cognitive-, practice- and social-experiential approaches. Of these, social-experiential approaches have received the least attention. Despite a general agreement between scholars that social networks play an important part in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial learning, the role of social interactions in entrepreneurial learning is underdeveloped. The aim of this research is to explore this gap and provide insights into the role of social interactions in entrepreneurial learning, how entrepreneurial learning during social engagement can be aided and/or impeded, the outcomes of entrepreneurial learning during social engagement, and how learning during social engagement benefits entrepreneurs. An interpretive approach, influenced by a social constructionist epistemology, underpinned the research, which comprised semi-structured qualitative interviews with 17 entrepreneurs across 15 companies. The data was analysed using thematic networks – a process which involved six steps across three levels of interpretation. This revealed three core principles: firstly, multiple, interwoven social interactions combine with other learning mechanisms and influencers for entrepreneurs to learn; secondly, learning during social engagement results in multi-layered and intertwined outcomes; and thirdly, learning during social engagement is contextually dependent and affected by various factors. These principles are interlinked; the first principle is foundational as it reflects how entrepreneurs learn (i.e. in a variety of learning sequences), with the other principles stemming from this to give a wider picture of entrepreneurial learning during social engagement. This thesis contributes to entrepreneurial learning literature by providing insight in three ways. Firstly, by demonstrating a need for integration rather than fragmentation within entrepreneurial learning. Secondly, by extending Bingham and Davis’ (2012) framework of learning sequences. Finally, in the presentation of a new model of entrepreneurial learning during social engagement, developed to show the interlinkage of the three principles identified in this study.