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' ((Who Is an Entrepreneur?" Is the Wrong


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Article · January 1989


DOI: 10.1177/104225878801200401

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William Gartner
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EducationalFoundation

' ((Whoa

Is an
Entrepreneur?"Is the
Wrong Question
WilliamB. Gartner

Entrepreneurshipis the creationof organizations.Whatdlfterentiatesentrepreneurs


trom non-entrepreneursls that entrepreneuns createorganizations,whil-e.non-entre-
o
(J-
preneursdc not. In behavioralapproachesto the study of entrepreneurshipan entre
preneur is seen as a set of activltiesinvolvedin organizationcreation,while in tralt g
approachesan entrepreneurls a set of personalitytraits and characteristics.This
gager argues that tralt approaches have been unfrultful and that behavioral ap I
proaches will be a more productive perspectivefor future'research in entrepreneur- -J
ship. r
s
T
<(
My own personalexperience wasthat for ten yearswe ran a researchcenter F
history; for ten ye:trs
in entrepreneurial -had we tried to definethe entrepreneur.
We nevlr succeeded.iEicnof us somenotion of it-what he thought
was, for his purposes,
a Geful definition.And I don't think you'regoingto
get fartherthanthat.(Cole, 1969,p. 17)
How can we know the dancerfrom the dance?(Yeats,1956)

Arthur Cole's wordshavetakenon the deepertonesof prophecy.Recentre-


views of the entrepreneurship literaturehavefoundfew changesin this dilemma
J
in the sixteenyearssinceCole's statement.Brockhuasand Horwiu's (1985) {
review of-tie psychotogyof the entrepreneur concludedthat "The literatureap- ai
-l
pearsto supportthe argumentthat thereis no genericdefinitionof the entrepre-
neur,or if thereis we do not havethe psychological instruments to discoverit at
this time. Most of the attemptsto distinguishbetweenenrrepreneurs and small
businessownersor managershavediscoveredno significantdiffercntiatingfea-
tures." (pp. 4243) Otherscholarshaveconcurredthat a commondefinitionof
the entrepreneur remainselusive(Carsrud,Olm and Edy, 1985;Sextonand
Smilor,1985;Wortman,1985).
Cole's early doubtsaboutwhetherthe entreprcneur could be definedhavenot
stoppedresearchers from attemptingto do so. Much rcsearchin the entrepreneur-
ship field has focusedon the personof the entrepreneur, askingthe question,
Why do certainindividualsstartfirms whenothers,undersimilarconditions,do
not? Asking why hasled us to answeringwith who: Why did X starta venture?
BecauseX hasa certaininnerqualityor qualities.This focuscanbe identifiedin
any researchwhich seeksto identify traits that differentiateentrepreneurs from
non-entrepreneurs: needfor achievement (Komives, 1972;McClelland,1961;
McClellandand Winter, 1969),locusof control(Brockhaus,1980a;Brockhaus

fummer,1989
and Nord, 1979:Hull. Bosley,and Udell, 1982;Liles. 1974\.risk taking
(Brockhaus, 1980b: Hull. Bosley,andUdell,1982;Liles,1974;Mancuso. 1975:
Palmer,l97ll, values(DeCarloandLyons, 1979:Hornaday andAboud. l97l;
Hull, Bosley,and Udell, 1980;Komives.1972),age(Cooper.1973;Howell,
1972:Mayer and Goldstein,196l) are but a few examples.X startsa venture
becauseof qualitiesthat madeX who (s)heis. Entrepreneurship researchhas
long asked,"Who is an entrepreneur?"
I believethe attemptto answerthe question"Who is an entrepreneur?,"
whichfocusses on the traitsandpersonality characteristics
of entrepreneurs, will
neitherleadus to a definitionof the entrepreneur nor help us to understand the
phenomenon of entrepreneurship. This searchfor characteristics andtraitsof the
entrepreneur is labeledin this articleas the trait approach.In this approachthe
entrepreneur is the basicunit of analysisandtheentrepreneur's traitsandcharac-
teristicsare the key to explainingentrepreneurship as a phenomenon, sincethe
entrepreneur"causes" entrepreneurship. The purposeof the frst part of this
article is to look at researchbasedon the trait view of entrepreneurship and to
showthat this view aloneis inadequate to explainthe phenomenon of entrepre-
neurship.Anotherapproachis neededto help us refocusour thoughtson entre-
preneurship.That approach-the behavioralapproach-will be presentedand
the two approaches will be comparedand contrasted.

THETRAITAPPROACH
ln the_trait approachthe entrepreneuris assumedto be a particular personality
type, a fixed stateof existence,a describablespeciesthat one might find a picture
of in a field guide, and the point of much entrepreneurshipresearchhas been to
enumeratea set of characteristicsdescribing this entity known as the entrepre-
neur. One indicationof the tenacityof this point of view-i.e., once an entrepre-
n9ur, always an entrepreneur,since an entrepreneuris a personality type, a state
of being that doesn't go away-can be seen in the selection of samplis of "en-
trepreneurs" in many well-regardedresearchstudies (Table l). In many studies
"enE€preneurs"
are sampled many years after having started their firms. Horn-
aday and Aboud (1971), for example, chose to study individuals who headed
neurs" were interviewed anywherefrom two to sixteen years after startup. Is the
owner/manager_o!-anongoing firm two or ten or even fifteen years aftei startup
an entrepreneur?If this individual is included in a sample of entrepreneurs,what
does that imply about the researcher'sdefinition of the entrepreneur,and what
will the resulting data reflect?
Table I is an attempt to organizeconcisely much of the major literanureon the
entrepreneurand entrePreneurship.It representsa succumbingto the grand temp-
tation that haunts many writers and researchersin the entrepreneurshipfield: if
we could just systematicallygo back and extract, categorize,and organize what
has already been discovered about the ennepreneur, we will return with the
pieces of a puzzle which we can then fit together into the big picture, and the
entrepreneurwill aPPeardefined on the page. Table I is most emphatically nor
the big picture. lnstead Table I shows:
( l) that many (and often vague)definitionsof the entrepreneurhave beenused
..
(in many studiesthe entrepreneuris never defined);

4 EX.ITRPRENEURSHIP
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56 ENTRPRET.IEIIBSHIP IHEOI?Yond PRACICE


(2) therearefew studiesthatemploythe samedefinition:
"who an entrepreneur is" hasled to the
(3) that lackof basicagreement is to
of "int .p..neurs" thatare hardlyhomogeneous. This lack
selecdonof sampres
occursnot ooiy amongthe various samples listed, but actually
of homogeneity
wtthin si-nglesamples.Formany of thi samplesit could be said that variation
withinthesampleis moresignihcant,i.e., ii couldtell us morethan variation
betweenthe sampleandthe generalpopulation'
(4) rhata srartiingnumbeiof traitl and characteristics havebeenanributedto
"psychological profile" of the entrepreneur assembled
the entrepreneur, "iO u
from theie studieswould po*y someonblargerthan.life,full of contradicdons,
and, conversely,,orn.oni so fuU of traits thit (s)hewould haveto be a sort of
"Everyman."
generic

ES
ANDTRATT.APPROACH
BEHAVIORAL
TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP
I rhink the study of the entrepreneuris actually on€ step removedfrom the
primary phenomenonof entteprineurship-the creationof organizatigry'i'
;;;; by which new organizitionscomeinto existence(Vesper,1982).This
'Uetrauiorat
approachviewJthe creationof an organization as.acontextualevent,
the outco*.'of manyinfluences.The entrepreneur is partof the complexprocess
of new venrur€.r."iion. This approachto the studyof entrepreneurshiP tr€atsthe
organizationas the primary levif of analysisandthe individual is viewed in terms
oiactivities undertakento enablethe organizationto come into existence
(Gartner,l9g5). The personalitycharacterisiics of the entrepreneur are ancillary
to the entrepreneur's'behaviors. Researchon the enuepreneurshouldfocus on
what the entrePreneur dotisandnot who the entrepreneur is.
This behavioral view of entrepreneurship is not new. Many authorshaveasked
"How doesan organizationcome into existence?"
as their primary question,
(Herbert'& Link,'1982; Shapero& Sokol, 1982).Arthur Cole, for example,
rakinga behavioralviewpoint,quotedSay(1816)anddefinedtheentrePreneur as
an economicagentwho:

unitesall meansof production-the laborof the one, the capitalor the-l*d


"i,tt"ttners-and *tto finds in the valueof the productswhich resultfrom
rheir employmentthe reconstitution of the entirecapitalthat he utilizes,and
the valueof tn. the
wages, and
interest, therentwhichhe pays,aswell asthe
profitsbelongingto himself.(Cole, 1946,p. 3)

This view placesthe entrepreneur within the processof new venturecreation,


pcrforminga seriesof actionsthat result in the creationof an organization.t1o*-
lu"r, after-settingour admirablyto define the entrcpreneuraccordingto a behav-
ioral orientationlcot. immediitely falls back to the "who is an entrePreneur"
approach,andwe areoncemorewith traitsandcharacteristics:

Thisperson,thisentrePreneur,musthavespecialpersonaIquaIities
anda knowledgeof the world as well
(frornsry) judgement,perseverance,
(p.
as of business. 3, added)
emphasis

Summer,1989 57
Although the behavioralview of entrepreneurship is not ne\r,.it seemsthat it
hasalwaysbeena difficult view to maintain(Peterson,l98l). As we haveseen.
the entrepreneurhas long seemedto many researchersto be a special person
whosequalitiesneedto be investigated.In 1980Van de Ven issueda warningto
entrepreneurshipresearchersnot to be tempted into studies of traits and charac-
teristics:

Researcherswedded to the conceptionof entrepreneurship for studying the


creation of organizations can learn much from the history of research on
leadership.Like the studiesof entrepreneurship, this researchbegan by in-
vestigatingthe traits and personalitycharacteristicsof leaders.However, no
empirical evidencewas found to support the expectationthat there are a finite
number of characteristicsor traits of leadersand that thesetraits differentiate
successfulfrom unsuccessfulleaders.More recently,researchinto leadership
has apparently made some progress by focusing on the behavior of leaders
(that is, on what they do insteadof what they are) and by determiningwhat
situational factors or conditions moderate the effects of their behavior and
performance.(p. 86)

Jenks(1950) and Kilby (1971) have also stronglycriticized researchwhich seeks


to develop personality profiles of the entrepreneur;both have encouragedre-
searchersto study the behaviorsand activities of entrepreneurs.In empirical re-
search(Brockhaus,1980;Brockhaus& Nord, 1979:Sexton& Kent, l98l) have
found that when certain psychological traits are carefully evaluated, it is not
possibleto differentiateentrepreneursfrom managersor from the generalpopula-
tion basedon the entrepreneur'ssupposedpossessionof such traits.
The trait approach to entrepreneurshipresearchis understandablypersistent.
Entrepreneursoften do seem like special people who achievethings that most of
us do not achieve. Theseachievements,we think, must be basedon some special
inner qualiry. It is difficult not to thir* this way. But let us rry to srepoutside this
way of thinking. We can illustrate this point with a srory. What if the United
Statessuddenly found itself unable to field a team of baseballplayers that could
win in world competition?One responseto such a problem might be to do re-
searchon baseballplayers to learn "Who is a baseballplayer?," so that indi-
viduals with baseballplaying propensitycould be selectedfrom the population.
Such studies might determinethat, on average,baseballplayers weigh 185
pounds.are six feet tall, and most of them can benchpressover 250 pounds.We
could probably develop a very good personalityprofile of the baseballplayer.
Basedon upbringingand experiencewe could documenta baseballplayer's locus
of control, need for achievement,toleranceof ambiguity, and other character-
istics that we thought must make for good baseballplaying. We could then re-
cruit individuals with this set of characteristicsand feel confident once again in
our comP€titiveedge. Yet, this type of researchsimply ignores the obvious-
that is, the baseballplayer, in fact, plays baseball.Baseball involves a set of
behaviors-running, pitching, throwing, catching, hitting, sliding, etc.-that
baseballplayers exhibit. To be a baseballplayer means that an individual is
behaving as a baseballplayer. A baseballplayer is not somerhingone is, it is
somethingone does, and the dehnition of a baseballplayer cannot stray far from
this obvious fact without getringinto difficulty.

58 THEOI?Y
ENTRPRENET,RSHIP ond PRACTICE
This might be said aboutany occupation-manager. welder. doctor. butcher.
How can we know the baseballplayer from the game?How can we know the
enrepreneurfrom startingan organization?
While this baseballmetaghormight help to make the difference betweenbe-
havioral and trait viewpoints very clear and keep it clear, this clarity is not so
easily achievedin real life empirical research.and researchers'viewpoints be-
come cloudy and out of focus. Behavioraland trait issuesmergeand conclusions
:ue vague and don't really tell us anything.

OF THETRAITVIEWPOINI
AN EXAMPLE
"Differentiating
An articleby Carland,Hoy, Boultonand Carland(1984).
Enrepreneurs from SmallBusiness Owners:A Conceptualization" is, I believe,
"if-
a good recentexampleof researchwhich continuesin the long traditionof
we-can-just-find-out-who-the-entrepreneur-is-then-we'll-know-what-entrepre-
neurship-is."By singlingout tfiis articleI do not meanto imply that it is any
beneror worsethan the myriad of otherentrepreneurship aniclesthat take the
trait approach.I havechosenit becauseit is the first reviewanicle on entrepre-
neurshipto appearin a majorjournalsince1977,andaftersucha long hiatus,my
reactionwas to focushardon the offering.
As notedabove,the centralissuein trait approachresearchis to distinguish
enrrepreneursfrom otherpopulationsof individuals.And, indeed,the Carland,et
the perpetualdilemmaof entrepreneurship
d. articlebeginsby rearriculating re-
searchers:

exist,as'entitiesdistinctfrom small and largeorganizations


If entrepreneurs
activity is a fundamentalcontributorto economicde-
and if entrepreneurial
velopment,on what basesmay entrepreneurs be separated from nonentre-
preneurial managersin orderfor thephenomenonof entrepreneurship to be
studiedand understood? (p. 355-emphasis added)

Carland,et al. do recognizethat the owner/manager of the ten or fifteen-year-


old firm is not necessarilyengagedin entrepreneurship, and thereforethese
"small business owners,"asCarlandet al. callsthem,shouldnot be includedin
a samplqof entrepreneurs. However,when it comesto distinguishingbetween
theentrepieneur andthesmallbusiness owner,it canbe shownthatCarlandet al.
are hinderedby trait views,by focusingon the entrepreneur and who (s)heis as
the primarylevel of analysis.After a selectivereviewof the literature,the paper
concludeswith somedefinitionswhich attemptto distinguishthe entrepreneur
from the smallbusiness owner:

Entrepreneur: An entrepreneur is an individualwho establishesand manages


a businessfor the principalpurposes of profit and growth.The entrepreneur
is characterizedprincipallyby innovativebehaviorandwill employstrategic
management practicesin the business.
Small businessowner:A small businessowner is an individualwho estab-
lishesandmanages a businessfor theprincipalpurposeof furtheringpersonal
goals.The businessmustbe the primarysourceof incomeandwill consume
the majorityof one's time and resources.The ownerperceivesthe business

9rnmer, 1989 59
as an extensionof his or her personality.intncatelyboundwith tamil-v-
needs
and desires.(p. 358)

From the previousdiscussion,focusingon the inrentionalityof the individual


in order to determinewhether that individual is an entrepreneuris just another
variation on the trait theme, and requiresus ro investigatethe psychologyof the
entrepreneurand establisha psychologicalprofile of the enrrepreneurialentity.
Furthermore,even if we take the definitions at face value, we are immediateiy
aware that the definitionsraisemore questionsthan they answer.If by definirion
a small businessowner establishesa businessto further personalgoals and an
entrepreneurestablishesa businessfor profit and growth, then what do we do
with the individual whose personalgoal is to establisha businessfor profit and
growth? (Are the goals of profit and growth to be consideredimpersonll goals?)
How do we distinguish personalgoals from goals of profit and growth? Are we
not, then, embroiled in another dilemma of distinguishing?When you define
small businessowners as having a businesswhich is their primary source of
income and will consumethe majority of their time, do you nor thereby imply
that entrepreneursstart organizations that wtll not be their primary source-of
income, and wlll not occupy the majority of their time and resources?(Are we to
assumethat the entrepreneursare off spendingthe majority of their time pursuing
personalgoals, which, by definition, cannot be related to their organizations?)Ii
small businessowners perceive the business as an extension of their person-
alities, intricately bound with family needsand desires, as opposedto entrepre-
neurs who do not perceivetheir firms in this w8y, then isn't this definition of
small businesslikely to include such family run organizationsas Marriott, Best,
and Nordstrom, leadersof their industriesin both profits and growth? To suggest
that -entrepreneurialstartupsare not intricately bound up wit[ the personaliiy of
the founders is to suggest that organiiarions such as Apple, Hewlett-Packard,
Lotus, and Microsoft are not entrepreneurial.
The last part of the Carland et al. entrepreneurialdefinition ties the state of
being 1n entrepreneurto innovative behavior and strategic managementprac-
tices. Carland et al. use a Schumpeteriandefinition of innovative-behavior1p.
357) which identifies five innovativestrategicpostures:(l) introductionof new
goods, (2) introduction of new methods of producrion, (3) opening of new
markets (4) opening of new sourcesof supply, and (5) industrial ieorginization.
Conelatingentrepreneurship with innovation,althoughit is intuitivelylppealing,
and seemsto take more of a behavioralviewpoint, leadsto the problem oi iOenti-
fying which firms in an industry are the innovative ones. wouid the first entranr
in an industry be consideredthe entrepreneurialfirm, while all subsequenten-
trants would be small businesses? How are we to determinethe degreeof Oiffer-
ence betweenone product and anothersimilar product which constitutesinnova-
tion? Do new methodsof manufacturing/markeiing/distributingthe product count
as innovative, and, again, what is the degree of difference-betweenthe truly
innovative and the not so innovative?Among the fifty or so personal.ornput.t
mllufacturing companies,e.g., Compaq, Columbia, Leading Edge, Intertec,
ACT Ltd., Polo Microsystems,Tava, StearnsComputer,Wyselechnology, Mi-
crocraft. Electro
_Design,STM Electronics, MAD Computei, SeequaCoilputer,
GRiD Systems,Bytec-Comterrn,SeattleComputer, Durango Syste.r, Cit on,
Advance Systems, which are the innovators;which are thi srnall businesses?

60 ENTRTRENEUNSHIP
THEOI?Y
ond PRACNCE
Correlatinginnovationwith entrepreneurship imptiesthat almostall firms in an
rndustrywhich sell to similar customergroupswould be consideredsmall busi-
nesses.The Carlandet al. definitions.while intendingto achievegrearerpreci-
s]on, actually increasethe ambiguity in what is alreadya definitionaldilemma.
Operationalizingthese definitions-pinpoinring who is :rn entrepreneur-be-
comes more and more difficult as van de ven (1980) warned.
Carland et al. discusssome past researchstudiesin order to idenrify and list
many characteristicsthat have been attributedto entrepreneurs.As I mentioned
earlier. this is the grand temptation.Entrepreneurship researchhasreachedsucha
point of accumulationof data that the Carland et al. attempr ro sort out past
rcsearchaccording to characteristicsstudied and to iist thesetharacteristics in a
able (Table l: Characteristicsof Entrepreneurs,p. 356) certainly might seem
like the most effective way to proceedin attempting to reach a definitioi of who
ls an entrepreneur(although it is hoped that my own Table I has shown that such
a mega-tableis not the answer|. On setting up the table, however, it becomes
immediately clear, as Carland et al. admit, that the studieswhich investigated
thesecharacteristicsand anributed them to entrepreneurswere not all empiical,
and more importantly, as Carland et al. point out, the researchsampleswere by
no means homogeneous.As discussedearlier, the authorsof thesepast srudies
usually did not provide important information rcgarding rheir samples;€.g., what
rype of industry.or
lYpe of firm was studied. TtrJpast studiesusui1y r"d'. broad
generalizationsin defining an entrepreneur,and the samples,therefore, included
execudves'managers,'salespersons, and small businesspersons.Once Carlandet
d. set up the table and recognizedifficulties with it, we are left wondering about
the relevance of including Table I in a paper whose main purpose is tJdistin-
guish gltrepreneurs frontsmall businessowners.r Carland ei at. end the discus-
sion of Table I with this'quesrion:

Are the characteristicslisted in Table I those of entrepreneurs,of small busi-


nessowners, or of some mixture that may or may noi be capableof demon-
strating the entrepreneurialfunction of economic development?

81' ending the discussionin this way they view Table I as worthless. In the
Carland ,eJal. attemPt to distinguish the intrepreneur from the small business
owner dd'we come any closer to a definition of tne entrepreneuror to an under-
standing of entrepreneurship?I hope I have shown the Carland et al. article is a

rCarland et al. attempt


to make senseof the wide range of characteristicsanributed to enreprcneurs
rn thctr Table I by stating that Vesper's view (tgSOtlUat severaltypes of entreprcneurscxist) may
bc an appropriate view, ar-rdby implying that differenr entrepreneursmay posseis differenr charac-
tenstlcs. thus accounting for the wide range of them in their-table.Howevir, Carland et al. quickly
undcrcut Vesper's notion of entrcpreneurialtypes by calling Vesper's rypology "a continuum along
wtuch scveral'rypes'of entrepreneursexist," and then insisting thaiitre entt"prcneurs along
the
conunuum differ. no_tmercly by possesingdiffercnt characteriitics, bur by disptaying diffErent
dcgrees of intensityof the set of characteristicswhich makesa.personan entrcpreniur. W1 are
back
to making fine distinctions and measuring imponderables.Vesper's nodon of entrcprcncunal
rypes
ts rcduced by Carland et al. to a caste system, with the mosl entreprcneurialentrcpreneurr'ith.
Frrcst ryPes) at the furthest end of the continuum. This is another ilustrarion of thj "*r"r", ro
whrch the trait view may take us: the entreprcncur is an entiry like an accordian file
who ..n b.
rnore full or less full of enueprcneurial "snrff. "

$rnmer, 1989
61
good exampleof wherewe end up when. w'itheverv good intention.we ask the
wrong question.Who is an entrepreneur'l
is the wrong question.

E N T R E P R E N E U R SIH
SITPH EC R E A T I O N
OF ORGANIZATIONS
Organization.creation(Vesper, 1982), I believe, separatesentrepreneurship
from other disciplines.Studiesof psychologicalcharacreristics of enrrepreneurs,
sociologicalexplanationsof entrepreneurial cultures,economicand demographic
explanationsof entrepreneuriallocations,etc., all such investigationsin thg en-
trepreneurshipfield actually begin with the creationof new organizations . Entre-
preneurship is the creation of new organizations.The purposeof this paper is not
to substituteone highly specific entrepreneurialdefinition for another. "Entre-
preneurshipis the creationof new organizations" is not offered as a definition.
but rather it is an attempt to changea long held and renaciousviewpoint in rhe
entrePreneurshipfield. If we are to understandthe phenomenonof entrepreneur-
ship in order to encourageits growth, then we need to focus on the processby
which new organizationsare created.This may seem like a simple refinement of
focus (i.e., look at what the entrepreneurdoes, not who the entrepreneuris), but
it is actually a rather thoroughgoing change in our orienration. From this per-
spective,other issuesin the field might be seenwith new'clarity.
An example of such an issue: if entrepreneurshipis behavioral, then it can be
seen that these behaviors cease once organization creation is over. One of the
problems in the enrepreneurship field is deciding when entrepreneurshipends
(Vesper, 1980). (Actually, the Carlandet al. attemptro distinguishentreprlneurs
from small businessowners might be approachedmore fruinrtty if looked at
from the behavioral perspectiveof entrepreneurshipending.) Th; organization
can live o_npast its creation stageto such possible stagesas growth, miturity, or
decline (Greiner, 1972;Steinmetz,1969).From the piocesslie*poinr, the indi-
vidual who createsthe organization as the entrepreneurtakes on other roles at
each stage-innovator, manager,small businessowner, division vice-president,
et9: Eluepreneurs, like baseballplayers, are identified by a set of behaviors
which link thernto organizationcreation.Managers,small businessowners,etc.,
are also identified by their behaviors. As long as we adhere to the behavioral
approachand view entrepreneurshipas something one does and not who one is,
then we can more effectively avoid the Carland et al.-type definitional dilemmas.
But once we are tempted to view the entrepreneur,the manager,the small busi-
nessowner, etc., as statesof being, we becomeembroiledin trying to pin down
their inner qualities and intentions.This approachmay not compiete-lyresolve the
question of when entrepreneurshipends, but it makesus look ai the organization,
rather than the Person,for our answer. Entrepreneurshipends when the creation
stage of the organizationends.

IMPLICATIONS
FORRESEARCH
ON THEENTREPRENEUR
Reorientationtowarda behavioralapproachto entrepreneurship beginsby
askingthe primaryquestion,"How do organizations comeinto exisiencJ?"W;
shouldthink of entrepreneurs
in regardto the role theyplay in enablingorganiza-
tionsto comeinto existence(Jenks,1950;Kilby, l97l; peterson,196l; Van de

62 ENTREPRENEIIRSHIP
IHEOI?Y
ond PI?ACTICE
yen. 1980). The focus will be on researchquestionsthat ask (among other
rhrngs)whar individualsdo to enableorganizations to come into existence.rather
than on the traits and characteristicsof theseindividuals.
Enrepreneurshipresearchshouldfollow the path of researchtaken in manage-
nal behiviors (Minuberg,.l973).The issuesthat Mintzbergarticulatedregarding
managersare the issues which also confront entrepreneurship.Substitute the
rrordlnrepreneur for manager. and entrepreneurialfor mana-eerialin Mintz-
berg's statementof the purPoseof his study:

We must be able to answera number of specific questionsbefore we can


expect managerialtraining and managementscienceto have any real impact
on Practice:
Whar kinds of activities does the managerperform? What kinds of infor-
marion does he process?With who must he work? Where? How frequently?
What are the distinguishingcharacteristics of managerialwork? What is of
interest about the media the manager uses, the activities he prefers to engage
in, the flow of theseactivitiesduring the workday, his use of time, the pres-
sures of the job?
Whar basic roles can be infened from the study of the manager's activi-
des? What roles does the managerperform in moving information, in making
decisions,in dealing with PeoPle?
What variations exist among managerialjobs? To what extent can basic
differences be attributed to the situation, the incumbent, the job, the organi-
zation. and the environment?
To what extent is managementa science?To what extent is the manager's
work programmed (that is, repetitive, systematicand predictable)?To what
"re-
extent is it programmable?To what extent can the managementscientist
program" managerialwork? (Mintzberg, 1973:3)

I believe that researchon entrepreneurialbehaviors must be based on field


*'ork similar to Mintzberg's study of managerialwork. Researchersmust observe
enrrepreneursin the process of creating organizations. This work must be de-
scnbed in detail and the activities systematizedand classified. Knowledge of
enrepreneurialbehaviorsis dependenton field work.
The rinrlrs of this field work should also be able to answer additional ques-
rlons. What are the specific organization creation skills that an entrePreneur
needsto know? (Palmer, 197l) If we've given up the perspectivethat tells us that
:rn enrepreneur is born with theseskills and abilities, then we must ask how are
rhese skills acquired?Some researchsuggeststhat entrepreneurialskills are
"learn-as-you-go" (Collins & Moore, 1970;Gartner, 1984). Entrepreneurswho
have started one organization seem to be more successfuland more efficient in
the srartup of their second and third organizations(Vesper, 1980). If this is
usually true, then what expertise,what specialknowledgedo theseentrePreneurs
garn from doing their first stanup?One skill they might learn is how to identify
and evaluateproblems.A new organizationis confrontedby many problems,and
some problems are more important than others. It would seem that the more
successfulentrepreneursdevelop expertisein judging which problemsneed im-
mediateattention(Hoad & Rosko, 1964;Lamont, 1972).
The processof team formationneedsto be studied(Timmons, 1979).How and

Surrner.1989 63
why do individualsentera new venture'lHow do they claim ownershipof a new
idea. organization.erc.? How is esprit de corps generated? How do individuals
convincethemselvesthat entennga new organizationwill benefitthem (Kidder,
l98l)?
All new venturesneedsometype of support,e.g., financial,legal. marketing,
technological.This assistance can be obtainedin many ways. In internal startups
the entrepreneurhas to convincesenior managementto provide support (Scholl-
hammer, l9S2). What is the political process-the strategies-that the entrepre-
neur undertakesto gain internalassistance? Is this any different than the process
undertaken by independent entrepreneurs to persuade venture capitaliststo invest
in their ventures?In either case, we need to make this processmore efficient and
successful because it appears that few new venture plans gain support. The im-
portanceof business plans to the process of obtaining venture capital and support
needsto be studied (Roberts, 1983). What are the features of successful business
plans?

CONCLUSION
How do we know the dancerfrom the dance?When we view entrepreneurship
from a behavioral perspectivewe do not artifically separatedancer from dance,
we do not attempt to fashion a reassuringsimplicity. The behavioral approach
challengesus to develop researchquestions,methodologies'andtechniquesthat
will do justice to the complexity of entrepreneurship(Gartner, 1985). The cre-
ation of an organization is a very complicated and intricate process, influenced
by many factors and influencing us even as we look at it. The entrepreneuris not
a fixed stateof existence,rather entrepreneurshipis a role that individuals under-
take to create organizations.

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