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Entrepreneurial Learning: New Insights

Special issue call for papers from The Learning Organization

Special issue call for papers on «Entrepreneurial learning: New Insights» in The Learning Organization

The Learning Organization (TLO) calls for papers for a special issue on “Entrepreneurial Learning: New Insights” (EL).
What would entrepreneurship be without learning? Reflecting this, Entrepreneurial Learning (EL) has established itself as an important concept within entrepreneurship research (e.g. Secundo et al., 2017). Surely, this has been facilitated by early studies on this topic (Minniti and Bygrave, 2001), important conceptual contributions (e.g. Corbett, 2005; Politis, 2005), as well as reviews of the EL literature (Wang and Chugh, 2014). Despite these important contributions, it is still somewhat unclear what the conceptual domain of EL is. A key reason is that our understanding of what “entrepreneurial” means and how “learning” should be understood and conceptualized is (constantly) evolving (e.g. Örtenblad, 2001; Wang and Ahmed, 2003; Wang and Chugh, 2014). Hence, to advance current conceptualizations there is a need to critically reflect over and discuss EL, including its conceptual domain, and how it empirically relates to other key concepts within entrepreneurship and management.

EL has a strong root in the scholarly field of entrepreneurship research (e.g. Cope, 2005; Politis, 2005). This field of research has recently seen an influx of new theorizing with associated debates over the nature of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial behavior (e.g. Fisher, 2012; Gruber and MacMillan, 2017). Prominent examples include (but do not exclude) research on effectuation (Sarasvathy, 2001), uncertainty (McMullen and Shepherd, 2006), passion (Cardon et al., 2009) and (the development of) entrepreneurial opportunities (e.g. Snihur et al., 2017; Vogel, 2017). Reflecting this, there is a need to connect and integrate EL with these as well as other recent developments in entrepreneurship research.

EL has to a considerable extent been studied at the individual level (Wang and Chugh, 2014). This is a reflection of the EL concepts roots in the entrepreneurship literature and the use of learning theories from psychology to study EL. Thus, a key focus has been on individual level learning during new venture creation (e.g. Politis, 2005). However, scholars increasingly argue that many new firms are started by teams (Harper, 2008). Thus, we need to know more about EL in the new venture team (NVT) setting (Wang and Chugh, 2014; El-Awad et al., 2017). A NVT lens on EL may open up several exciting research issues. For instance, how do characteristics of the NVT influence EL among individual team members?  Do team process and team heterogeneity influence EL of individual team members? Equally interesting is to study how new venture teams – as a collective organizational entity – undertakes EL.  Such a focus will help to transcend the overly focus on the individual in current EL research (e.g. Wang and Chugh, 2014) and help to integrate research on teams/NVT and EL. A NVT setting may also be ideal to explore and examine the relationship between EL and how organizations learn, including the interrelationship between EL and organizational routines and capabilities.  

Given the importance of learning to entrepreneurship – broadly understood – it becomes necessary to better understand how EL can be nourished and promoted. Traditionally, important inputs to EL has been individuals stock of previous experience, such as previous new venture experience (e.g. Politis, 2005). However, many new founders start their ventures without much relevant prior experience. How does EL unfold in such situations? Moreover, how can the process of EL be accelerated, if at all? What kind of support environments or contexts may support or inhibit the entrepreneurial learning process? In a similar vein, more research is needed on the processes transforming inputs and antecedent factors into EL, within both individuals as well as NVTs.

Lastly, we will highlight two fundamental issues. First, in an early contribution, Minniti and Bygrave (2001) argued that: “entrepreneurship is a process of learning, and a theory of entrepreneurship requires a theory of learning” (p. 7). However, Wang and Chugh (2014) systematic review of the EL literature showed that EL scholars have a strong orientation towards (simply) applying existing learning theories to the entrepreneurship process. However, looking at a phenomenon – like EL – through known theoretical lenses may preempt and constrain our understanding of the phenomenon. Thus, the time may be ripe to build new EL theory. To this, we add that there may be a need to build several intermediate or middle-range theories of EL since the concept of EL may increasingly be applied to different units of analysis – individuals, teams and organizations – and therefore may involve (partly) different inputs, processes and outputs. A second issue, tied to the first, is the lack of a validated scale(s) that empirically measures EL. Validated scales that empirically measure theoretical concepts are key to theory testing and theory construction (Crook et al., 2010). Thus, the time is ripe to develop a validated scale(s) that measure the concept of EL, at the individual, team and/or organizational levels.  
Theoretical, conceptual and/or empirical papers addressing these or other relevant topics related to EL are welcome.

Note that all papers submitted to The Learning Organization must relate to learning at the organizational (or group) level. Since learning as a collective activity has been under-explored in EL literature, we call for studies that look into the social nature of learning in entrepreneurship. Reflecting this, papers submitted to the special issue could for instance discuss the applicability of existing theories of organizational learning to EL, highlight that entrepreneurs typically create new organizations when exploiting entrepreneurial opportunities, or highlight how organizational aspects more generally influence EL.



The submission deadline for papers is 30th of April 2018. The Special Issue is scheduled to be released by September 2019.
Please note that all submissions must follow author guidelines, in regard to style, format and paper length. Please refer to author guidelines on this link:


Cardon, M. S., Wincent, J., Singh, J. and Drnovsek, M. (2009), “The nature and experience of entrepreneurial passion”, Academy of management Review, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 511-532.
Cope, J. (2005), “Toward a dynamic learning perspective of entrepreneurship”, Entrepreneurship theory and practice, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 373-397.
Corbett, A. C. (2005), “Experiential learning within the process of opportunity identification and exploitation”, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 473-491.
Crook, T. R., Shook, C. L., Morris, M. L. and Madden, T. M. (2010), “Are we there yet? An assessment of research design and construct measurement practices in entrepreneurship research”, Organizational Research Methods, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 192-206.
El-Awad, Z., Gabrielsson, J. and Politis, D. (2017), “Entrepreneurial learning and innovation: The critical role of team-level learning for the evolution of innovation capabilities in technology-based ventures”, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 381-405.
Fisher, G. (2012), “Effectuation, causation, and bricolage: A behavioral comparison of emerging theories in entrepreneurship research”, Entrepreneurship theory and practice, Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 1019-1051.
Gruber, M. and Macmillan, I. C. (2017), “Entrepreneurial behavior: A reconceptualization and extension based on identity theory”, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 271-286.
Harper, D. A. (2008), “Towards a theory of entrepreneurial teams”, Journal of business venturing, Vol. 23 No. 6, pp. 613-626.
Mcmullen, J. S. and Shepherd, D. A. (2006), “Entrepreneurial action and the role of uncertainty in the theory of the entrepreneur”, Academy of Management review, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 132-152.
Minniti, M. and Bygrave, W. (2001), “A dynamic model of entrepreneurial learning”, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 5-16.
Örtenblad, A. (2001), "On differences between organizational learning and learning organization", The Learning Organization, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 125-133.
Politis, D. (2005), “The process of entrepreneurial learning: A conceptual framework”, Entrepreneurship theory and practice, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 399-424.
Sarasvathy, S. D. (2001), “Causation and effectuation: Toward a theoretical shift from economic inevitability to entrepreneurial contingency”, Academy of management Review, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 243-263.
Secundo, G., Schiuma, G. and Passiante, G. (2017), “Entrepreneurial learning dynamics in knowledge-intensive enterprises”, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 366-380.
Snihur, Y., Reiche, B. S. and Quintane, E. (2017), “Sustaining Actor Engagement during the Opportunity Development Process”, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 1-17.
Vogel, P. (2017), “From Venture Idea to Venture Opportunity”, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Vol. 41 No. 6, pp. 943-971.
Wang, C. L. and Ahmed, P. K. (2003), “Organisational learning: a critical review”, The Learning Organization, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 8-17.
Wang, C. L. and Chugh, H. (2014), “Entrepreneurial learning: past research and future challenges”, International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 24-61.