Purpose – The main purpose of this study is to develop an empirically grounded model of entrepreneurial learning that focuses on learning behaviours. Design/methodology/approach – Based on the competency approach of understanding entrepreneurial learning, a qualitative study was conducted on a sample of 12 successful entrepreneurs. The data were collected using semi‐structured interviews based on the critical incident approach. A two‐stage approach was adopted in the data analysis. Findings – Six patterns of entrepreneurial learning behaviours emerged from the analysis, and they were exerted in three transformative processes, namely accumulating experience through carrying out entrepreneurial tasks, consolidating learning outcomes from experience, and applying or transferring one's own and others' learning outcomes when carrying out the tasks. Also, the processes were under the influence of the learning contexts and the learning behaviours were reinforced throughout the process. Based on the analysis, a model of entrepreneurial learning centred upon the learning behaviours was constructed empirically. Research limitations/implications – Entrepreneurial learning can be seen as an open, generative, iterative and self‐reinforcing process. Further investigation can be conducted on the intensity of entrepreneurial learning, its effectiveness, and its relationships with entrepreneurs' tasks, experience, learning outcomes, and learning contexts. Practical implications – Education and training for entrepreneurs should be situated within the actual workplace or simulated contexts that provide them with opportunities to apply what they have learned while taking action, to accumulate their first‐hand experience and to reflect upon experience. Originality/value – Entrepreneurial learning is considered and examined as an observable and measurable construct with a focus on the learning behaviours exhibited by entrepreneurs.
Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 3, 2012
Keywords: Entrepreneurial learning; Learning behaviours; Competency approach; Qualitative analysis; Entrepreneurialism; Learning methods
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