Growth intentions and communicative practices : Strategic entrepreneurship in business development

University dissertation from Lund : Lund Business Press

Abstract: This thesis focuses on the “will and skill” of individuals who take part in activities of running a business. The aspect of “will” is studied in terms of growth intentions and the aspect of “skill” is studied in terms of communicative practices. The overall purpose is to explore how entrepreneurs think and talk about growth and how they act in their communicative practices to express their growth intentions and to mobilize resources for their businesses. To meet the overall purpose four empirical studies have been conducted. The empirical data consist of interviews and observations “shadowing” entrepreneurs, as well as mail questionnaires to Swedish entrepreneurs. Perspective Text Analysis (PTA) has been used to analyse growth intentions, and reveals growth in both a pragmatic sense and an institutionalized sense. Pragmatic growth refers to talk about growth in terms of space for development, space for money and status, and/or space for security and control. Institutionalized growth refers to talk about growth in terms of a winning scenario or a threatening scenario. The analysis regarding communicative practices resulted in six categories of communicative behaviour in the business start-up: (i) from no one to someone, (ii) from small to big, (iii) from inexperienced to experienced, (iv) from one role to another role, (v) from alone to a network member, and (vi) from silence to conversation. Further, the entrepreneurs show other-orientation, openness and adaptation in their communicative behaviour. In addition, entrepreneurs with previous experience from entrepreneurship education report higher willingness in the dimension of openness and adaptation in communication. The communicative practices are merged into a model of content-centred, behaviour-centred and adaptive-centred communication strategies. Entrepreneurs’ “will and skill” with focus on communication strategies are proposed to be an important part of strategic entrepreneurship.

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