My research sits at the intersection of strategic management and entrepreneurship. We can define strategy as the alignment of internal strengths and weakness with external opportunities and threats; entrepreneurship as the developing and exploitation of new commercial opportunities. Putting them together, we get strategic entrepreneurship–developing and exploiting new commercial opportunities that better enable the firm to capitalize on its strengths, minimize its weaknesses, capture new growth opportunities, and address competitive threats. Often those opportunities manifest in new lines of business for the firm. Other times those opportunities are process innovations, or even fundamental changes to the firm’s business model.
I’m not an innovation scholar–there is some amazing work being done in this area–although innovation is a fundamental element of my area. Strategic entrepreneurship is more focused on what the firm does with the innovations it creates, and whether those innovations are used proactively to improve the firm’s competitive position. Encapsulating the firm’s innovativeness and its proactiveness is the extent to which the firm’s managers are willing to commit resources to projects with uncertain outcomes, what we call managerial attitude towards risk. Risk in this context isn’t like gambling, where we know all of the possible outcomes and can calculate our probability of each outcome. Strategic entrepreneurial risk is where we don’t know all of the possible outcomes–we don’t know for sure what will happen–and there is no meaningful way to calculate our odds.
From this starting point, the construct–a theoretical device to help makes sense of an underlying phenomenon–I focus on is Entrepreneurial Orientation (EO), which is defined colloquially as a firm’s strategic posture towards entrepreneurship. Formally, we define a firm’s EO as a second-order, multidimensional construct comprised of entrepreneurial behaviors, and managerial attitude towards risk. Entrepreneurial behaviors is the pursuit of new products, processes, or business models (innovativeness) with the intent of commercializing those innovations in new product-market domains (proactiveness). Managerial attitude towards risk is an inherent managerial inclination favoring strategic actions that have uncertain outcomes. For EO to exist, a firm must be behaving entrepreneurially, and its managers must be willing to accept a degree of uncertainty in pursuing those behaviors. In other words, a firm has to do both.
Why is this topic important? We now have several decades of research showing that entrepreneurial firms outperform their conservatively managed peers. So for managers, developing the firm’s EO and harnessing that EO is critical to improving the firm’s competitive position. Broadly, entrepreneurship is the mechanism through which we create new wealth and new economic growth. Absent entrepreneurship and irrespective of government stimulus–which is actually more likely to stifle entrepreneurial behavior than encourage it–economies stagnate. Individuals and teams creating new businesses and even new markets is absolutely critical to economic growth. But equally important is how existing firms deploy their capital and other resources to develop and exploit new opportunities, which is arguably the most critical managerial challenge facing companies in developed economies. Understanding EO helps managers make their firm more competitive, and by extension, explains how we foster macroeconomic wealth creation–the more entrepreneurial companies are, the stronger our economy.
I usually have 3-4 studies in progress at any one time, mostly on EO, and I’m expanding into research design and methodology studies. You can read about some of my ongoing projects and help contribute to these projects on this blog–I could use your insights!
You can keep track of all of my published work on my Google Scholar profile.