Developing Entrepreneurial Behavior

University dissertation from Chalmers University of Technology

Abstract: Can nascent entrepreneurs learn how to behave so as to achieve their ambition of creating new ventures? This thesis explores how the development of entrepreneurial behavior can be facilitated through investigating nascent entrepreneurship taking place at the university. The focus is on the influence of environmental factors and the processes involved as a new opportunity-based venture is created need to be considered when addressing entrepreneurial behavior development. The university is chosen to be an appropriate empirical setting as it is capable of facilitating activity resulting in the creation of new opportunity-based, high-growth potential ventures. An action research approach is used to study an intrinsic case, which is then compared to other environments in order to understand how behavior development is facilitated. A systems perspective allows for study of entrepreneurial behavior through contributions from different levels of analysis in a micro-aggregate mix, from the individual to society. Social Learning Theory, additional learning theories, and Positioning Theory are used to investigate how behaviors are developed and confirmed or rejected during interaction between the nascent entrepreneur and the role-set. Nascent entrepreneurs are hampered by liability of newness and lack of social networks. They benefit from training and support that facilitates establishing legitimacy as entrepreneur, and reducing uncertainty and ambiguity, thereby preparing for and making decisions as a new venture is created. Both structural and social components of environmental factors facilitate behavior development, as policies or norms are discussed and negotiated with a role-set. Learning through interaction with the role-set also facilitates hypothesis testing and feedback loops, allowing the nascent entrepreneur to take pre-emptive action, and reduce uncertainty and ambiguity. Nascent entrepreneurs can train in future business activities, while in the process of emergence, in order to develop behaviors for an entrepreneurial career.