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Evolutionary Approach to Entrepreneurship

Evolutionary Approach to Entrepreneurship

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Published by: ecell_iimk on Aug 16, 2009
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02/13/2014

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Contemplating an Evolutionary Approach to Entrepreneurship
Colin JonesLecturer in EntrepreneurshipUniversity of TasmaniaSchool of Management, Private Bag 16,Hobart 7001, Tasmania, Australiatel: (+61)362262826, fax: (+61)362262808,email: Colin.Jones@utas.edu.au
 
 
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Contemplating an Evolutionary Approach to Entrepreneurship
Abstract:
This paper explores that application of evolutionary approaches to the study of entrepreneurship. It is argued an evolutionary theory of entrepreneurship must give asmuch concern to the foundations of evolutionary thought as it does the natureentrepreneurship. The central point being that we must move beyond a debate orpreference of the natural selection and adaptationist viewpoints. Only then can theinterrelationships between individuals, firms, populations and the environments withinwhich they interact be better appreciated.
KEYWORDS:
Entrepreneurship, Selection, Lamarckism, Interaction, and Replication
INTRODUCTION
During recent times, the frequency of calls for researchers of entrepreneurship toadopt an evolutionary approach has increased. Two of the domain’s leading journals (i.e.
 Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice
and the
 Journal of Business Venturing
) haveorganised special editions devoted to consideration of the increasing application of evolutionary theories to the study of entrepreneurship. Appropriately, the work of HowardAldrich strongly influences the content and contributors of these special editions.Aldrich’s (1999) articulation of a generic evolutionary framework to advance ourunderstanding of social change is perhaps destined to become a landmark contributionwithin the developing field of entrepreneurship research. Yet, despite the breadth of itscontribution, many questions remain unresolved, many raised by Aldrich himself in hisconcluding ‘invitation’ chapter. This paper accepts the challenge of Aldrich’s challenge tofurther explore the application of evolutionary theory to the emergence and disappearance
 
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of organizational entities. In doing so, this paper deliberately adopts a very eclecticapproach, attempting to synthesize ideas that seemingly remain isolated. The journey of confronting the problems that have prevented the development of a legitimateevolutionary approach to the study of entrepreneurship is one requiring muchcompromise.This paper is structured in the following manner. First, the importance of anevolutionary approach to entrepreneurship research is considered. Second, theprerequisites of an evolutionary approach are discussed. Third, problematic issues thatremain contested are explored through consideration of areas of emerging consensus.Fourth, the nature of empirical evidence required to progress the development of anevolutionary approach to entrepreneurship research is discussed. In keeping with theAldrichian spirit, the paper concludes by drawing out the implications that arise from thisdiscussion and presents more questions that remain unanswered.
EVOLUTIONARY THEORY AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Entrepreneurship research represents a domain of enquiry that is at present“anchored in the disciplines” of economics, sociology, organizational theory, andpsychology (Davidsson, Low & Wright, 2001: 14). To many, entrepreneurship has yet toemerge as a respected discipline in its own right. This is disappointing given theimportance of entrepreneurship research to addressing the issues economic and socialchange. In 1988, Murray Low and Ian MacMillan raised six specific concerns relating topast and future research into entrepreneurship. The six specific areas of critical importanceto entrepreneurship researchers reviewed were: purpose, theoretical perspective, focus,level of analysis, time frame, and methodology. These specific issues have generallyreceived isolated attention, with the obvious exception being the increased use of 

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