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Influencing factors of entrepreneurial learning from peers

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paperpeer-review

Publication date2011
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventISBE 34th Annual Conference Sheffield 2011 - Sheffield, United Kingdom
Duration: 3/09/2012 → …


ConferenceISBE 34th Annual Conference Sheffield 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period3/09/12 → …


Objectives: This paper extends present knowledge on entrepreneurial learning by conceptualising the main influences surrounding the process of learning through observing fellow entrepreneurs.
Prior Work: This paper answers the call for additional entrepreneurial learning specific knowledge (Harrison & Leitch 2008). The majority of research in entrepreneurial learning has focused on individual learning through reflection (Cope 2003; Cope 2005; Rae & Carswell 2001). Drawing on the principles of Social Learning Theory (Bandura 1977) this paper extends present knowledge by focusing on entrepreneurial learning through observation. The use of Social Learning Theory (SLT) concepts in the entrepreneurial literature have been timid and mainly focused on the role modeling function of parents (Scherer, Adams & Wiebe 1989; Lundström & Stevenson 2005; Van Auken, Stephens, et al. 2006; Mungai & Velamuri 2011). Using SLT as a ground base to understand the particulars of observational learning, and supported by entrepreneurial learning (Lévesque et al. 2009; Holcomb et al. 2009) and peer-to-peer learning (Zhang & Hamilton 2009) literatures we devise an inductive approach to explore what influences entrepreneurs when learning from their peers.
Approach: The initial data for this empirical study was collected through in depth interviews of 17 entrepreneurs participating in the 2011 LEAD program developed by Lancaster University. LEAD is 10 months leadership and entrepreneurial development program incorporating several facets of learning and reflection (Kempster 2006; Kempster & Cope 2010; Zhang & Hamilton 2009). One of the initial activities of LEAD requires the delegates to draw a timeline illustrating those who have impacted on as entrepreneurs or as leaders. Data was collected half way through the course and participants were asked to describe their business and the people on their timeline. The interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed. Data was further analyzed drawing on grounded theory procedures (Corbin & Strauss 2008).
Results: The key findings of this paper can be summarized in two main areas. Firstly, our data suggests that entrepreneurs use far more complex learning models than the ones described by Bandura (1977). This is particularly relevant when understanding the role of negative role modelling and the full dynamics of the learning cycle. Our research also highlights the particular role of context when entrepreneurs learn from each other. Our research suggests that three different contexts are influential in observational learning: the natural, formal and media contexts. Overall this emphasises the need to further understand the link between Bandura’s (1977) framework and the process of entrepreneurial learning through observation.
Implications: This paper carries implications to practitioners, entrepreneurship course conveners and entrepreneurship scholars. For practitioners our research suggests the need for further involvement with formal settings where observational learning is widely practiced. For course convenors, our research should work as a reassurance of the benefits of entrepreneurial observational learning. For theorists, our research confirms the need for additional works on entrepreneurial learning in general and learning through observation in particular.
Value: Extends the established framework for entrepreneurial learning by conceptualizing the learning acquired through observing fellow entrepreneurs.