Applying social concepts to the social relations that the entrepreneur maintains, this research seeks to identify the impact of these relationships, and the learning that might result from them, on the decision‐making process. A social and conversational model of experiential learning is put forward, where learning and influence are seen to emerge as part of an ongoing negotiated process. This argument complements Kolb's “fundamentally cognitive” theory of experiential learning, by challenging the view that the learner should be viewed as an “intellectual Robinson Crusoe”, and stating that even when an individual reflects and theorises their thoughts have a social character. Data were collected using critical incident technique through one‐to‐one in‐depth interviews over several weeks. The paper goes some way to confirm the importance of networks in the business development process, helping further to define how networks exist. The learning identified, is understood therefore as part of an ongoing negotiated process within a complex network of domestic, voluntary, commercial and professional relations.
Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 1, 2004
Keywords: Entrepreneurialism; Learning; Small enterprises; Critical incident technique