Conference: Advancing our understanding of entrepreneurship through process and pragmatic theory

I presented a paper on my work on entrepreneurship at the Open University at the 18th Congress of the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology in Dublin, May 17-20, 2017.



This paper responds to Sarasvathy & Venkaraman’s (2011) call for detailed studies of how ‘entrepreneurs transform bits and pieces of current realities into valuable opportunities through productive interaction with others” (p. 126).


The study uses process theory and a pragmatic lens to reconstruct the timeline of two micro-enterprises in the United Kingdom. Specifically, the studies explore how often the business changed and what prompted those changes.


Both entrepreneurs presented their business almost in chapters and the changing form of their business was retrospectively very visible. Both changed often yet irregularly but at different rates; one about every six months and the other about once a year. A further RQ about whether people prompted changes resonated with neither informant. Inspection of the detailed case studies and revisiting the first principles of pragmatism suggest that interactions with others do not trigger change. Rather those interactions are filtered through the entrepreneur’s models of action that may be more sophisticated than we think.


If it is indeed the case that events in the entrepreneur’s environment are filtered through the entrepreneur’s action models, then the challenge is to research those models and to pace support to match the development of those models.


These case studies close an astonishing gap in the literature and present an almost paradoxical effect where attention to the context of entrepreneurial decision-making re-asserts entrepreneurial decision-making by relegating context to the background and bringing the growing understanding of the business by the entrepreneur to the foreground.  This work was conducted at the Open University.


If you would like to know more about this study, please drop me a line here or at the OU.