My thesis is that the quality of an entrepreneur's organization has as much to do with a venture's success or failure as business strategy, choice of opportunity, market-entry strategy and capital acquisition. As I hope to become famous for saying: It is not what the entrepreneur can do, but what he or she can get the organization to do, that results in long-term success.
Few entrepreneurs have excellence in all of the skill areas required in a business, and none have the time and energy to fulfill all of the functional requirements the business imposes as it grows. Thus, entrepreneurs must create organizations that are able to perform the various functions necessary to achieve desired outcomes.
Good organizations require good planning and thoughtful implementation. My goal is to understand how different entrepreneurs create organizations based on individual differences, prior experience/training and cognitive factors.
Organizing Principles and Applications of the Research
- Why do some people start certain businesses while others don't
- What goals do they hold and are there implications of those goals on outcomes
- Why do some people succeed while others don't
- What are the nature and causes of failure
- Develop applications for the selection and training of entrepreneurs in various contexts
These are things that I want to understand. If they are already in the literature, they will move out of here.
One of key issues with entrepreneurs is the difficulty that many have adapting to their role as it changes over time. Initially very task-oriented, it changes to an organizationally-oriented role. See Miner 1990 for one model of change. Vecchio 2003 talks about it, too.
- Why do some entrepreneurs succeed in making this transition while other fail?
- What are the different stumbing blocks and outcomes for entrepreneurs?
- How can we characterize/operationalize the role maturation process?
- Is maturation a good word for it?
- What does Situational Leadership Theory say about one person being able to exhibit multiple leadershp styles? Is there an instrument for "leadership style flexiblity"? What are the antecedents of this flexibility?
- How do entrepreneurs form teams? In particular, a balanced teams important, resulting in success?
- In small teams, how are roles differentiated?
- Is the vision centralized in one person? How do teams allocate decision-making, power, etc?
Goals of Entrepreneurs
- Why do entrepreneurs emerge?
- What do they hope to achieve at the outset? Does this change over time?
- I don't think that financial goals are the primary driver. If someone wanted to make money, there are easier ways. I think that something else is compelling the entrepreneur, and some taxonomy of these rationales would be interesting. Particularly as they are related to outcomes. Shane Venkataraman 2000 say it is basically financial and instrumental. Not buying that.
- Does training in goal definition cause improved business outcomes?
How VC Evaluate Entrepreneurs
VC evaluate business ideas, plans, markets - see MacMillan 1985 for the nice overview.
- How do they evaluate the entrepreneurs themselves? What characteristics are they looking for? Beliefs? Behaviors? Values?
- How does prototypicality/stereotypicality affect the process?
- Could evaluation be improved with some kind of instrumentation?
- Who is doing evaluations in this space? Look at Smart's work - topgrading.com and Smart 1999?. Who else is doing something?
- Do value systems have a general bias towards employees, customers or shareholders?
- Where do an entrepreneur’s values come from? How does an entrepreneur select certain values for the organization? Are they selected at all?
- How are values implemented in the organization?
- What impact do values have on an entrepreneurial organization?
- What values are commonly held among entrepreneurs?
- Values Taxonomy – can values be grouped into categories?
- Are there behaviors in which values are apparent?
- Are there organizational outcomes that are derived from values?
- How is vision created?
- How are the different parts of the vision promoted?
- Is there a taxonomy of visions? Internal/external, market/operations, etc.
- Do specific kinds of visions predict success?
- How does vision get promulgated to TMT and organization as a whole? I propose by a process of adoption, not shared creation.
- What is the relationship between cognitive (old style) perseverance and business success/failure – is there a curvilinear relationship, where too much perseverance causes failure to give up on bad mission?
- Study personality by type of venture. Does extraversion benefit sales organizations but not innovation organizations? First proposed by Zhao 2006?.
- Study how Openness to Experience (and all Big 5) are related to stage of venture. Miner and Zhao have something to say here.
- Show whether Conscientiousness predicts emergence. It predicts success, but I think that low C or perhaps just low dependability may actually predict emergence.
- The Wharton SBDC wants to know how to predict who will emerge as entrepreneurs. They have lots of Bobs show up with business plans seeking support and advice, but they don't actually start their businesses. Why not? Emergence and Self-Efficacy Study
- Do Bobs make attributions for why they don't start the business, such as fear of competition, lack of funds, etc? Do they procrastinate, or make action contingent on some externality (e.g., market readiness, accession of their family) or an internality (e.g., a training program, feeling comfortable about their family)?
- Is emergence related to an individual difference, such as confidence, efficacy, motivation or such?