This study develops the use of “practical theory”, as a resource in entrepreneurial learning. Practical theory emerges from the implicit, intuitive, tacit and situated resource of practice, whereas academic theory is abstract, generalised, explicit and seeks to be provable. The study develops practical theories from the life story accounts provided by interviewing entrepreneurs. The study demonstrates a framework and example for interpreting entrepreneurial learning and developing practical theory from these accounts. Thirty practising entrepreneurs were interviewed, in a wide range of industries and at different stages of life and career experience, from first venture to experienced serial entrepreneur. Practical theories of entrepreneurial working have been developed, using the framework of “what, how, why, who and in what conditions” the practices identified are effective. The practical theories arising from the study are presented using this structured framework, based on a sense making perspective. Discourse material is used to support and illustrate the practical theories, which relate to personal learning and development; identifying and developing innovative opportunities; creating new ventures; and managing growing businesses.
Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 1, 2004
Keywords: Entrepreneurialism; Learning; Narratives
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