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Journal cover: International Journal of Organizational Analysis

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Online from: 1993

Subject Area: Organization Studies

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The evolution of entrepreneurial learning

Document Information:
Title:The evolution of entrepreneurial learning
Author(s):Dermot Breslin, (The Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK), Colin Jones, (Australian Innovation Research Centre, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia)
Citation:Dermot Breslin, Colin Jones, (2012) "The evolution of entrepreneurial learning", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 20 Iss: 3, pp.294 - 308
Keywords:Ecology, Entrepreneurial learning, Entrepreneurialism, Evolutionary theory, Learning, Niche construction
Article type:Conceptual paper
DOI:10.1108/19348831211243811 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The authors would like to thank two anonymous reviewers at IJOA for valuable feedback in the development of this paper. This paper has been developed from a paper presented at the 34th Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) conference held in Sheffield, UK in November 2011, where it was awarded best paper in the Entrepreneurial Learning track. The authors would also like to thank colleagues at ISBE for useful comments and suggestions in the development of the ideas presented here, including Professor Andrew Atherton, Professor Oswald Jones, Professor Pauric McGowan and Professor David Rae.

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present an evolutionary perspective on entrepreneurial learning, whilst also accounting for fundamental ecological processes, by focusing on the development of key recurring, knowledge components within nascent and growing small businesses.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper relates key developments within the organizational evolution literature to research on entrepreneurial learning, with arguments presented in favor of adopting a multi-level co-evolutionary perspective that captures and explains hidden ecological process, such as niche-construction.

Findings – It is argued in the paper that such a multi-level focus on key recurring knowledge components can shed new light on the process of entrepreneurial learning and lead to the cross-fertilization of ideas across different domains of study, by offering researchers the opportunity to use the framework of variation-selection-retention to develop a multi-level representation of organizational and entrepreneurial learning.

Originality/value – Entrepreneurial learning viewed in this way, as a multi-level struggle for survival amongst competing knowledge components, can provide entrepreneurs with a set of evolutionary heuristics as they re-interpret their understanding of the evolution of their business.

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