An Entrepreneurial Mindset : Self-Regulating Mechanisms for Goal Attainment

Abstract: Comprised of a cover story and five separate but interrelated articles, this dissertation explores entrepreneurial learning. By connecting multiple theoretical perspectives, reviewing extant literature, using four qualitative datasets, and building theory inductively, the articles explain components to and mechanisms of entrepreneurial learning. This dissertation is one of the first to explore the essence of entrepreneurial learning by incorporating non-entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs simultaneously, cognitive processes, and contextual variables. Learning lies at the core of entrepreneurship, and scholars have even argued that a theory of entrepreneurship requires a theory of learning. The literature suggests that experiences in the context of entrepreneurship triggers entrepreneurial learning, and that such learning relates to achieving ambitious goals, the discovery of new opportunities and better overall performance. Entrepreneurial learning has also been highlighted in contexts outside entrepreneurship and as a mean to fostering future entrepreneurs and developing people’s entrepreneurial attributes and characteristics. The idea is that entrepreneurship is a way of thinking and acting and that entrepreneurial learning can be of use to anyone, even to those lacking entrepreneurial experience.Entrepreneurial learning literature, both inside and outside the context of entrepreneurship, emphasizes triggers of entrepreneurial learning, but does not recognize components that enable those triggers to be recognized and acted on and the underlying mechanisms that distinguish entrepreneurial learning from other types of learning. This gap makes it difficult to assess what entrepreneurial learning is and how it can be enhanced for both entrepreneurs and people preparing for entrepreneurship. This dissertation explains how and why entrepreneurial learning can be understood as a simultaneous and active regulation of cognition, motivation, and emotions to achieve goals. This elaboration captures core components and the mechanism of entrepreneurial learning, and illustrates how it can be understood and enhanced in various contexts.