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Learning among entrepreneurs in formal networks: Outcomes, processes and beyond
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation focuses on how entrepreneurs learn to acquire entrepreneurial knowledge and competence, which ultimately can open doors to business success. Contemporary critics suggest that programs designed to develop general competence are not sufficiently relevant to these entrepreneurs. On the other hand, scholars and practitioners have recently noticed that external relations in formal learning networks can be a notable opportunity for learning in entrepreneurs. The aim of this dissertation is to elaborate on the processes and outcomes of government supported learning networks among entrepreneurs who work in small and medium sized enterprises. It draws on reports of four separate but interrelated research studies that author conducted. The research described in the dissertation is based on multiple theoretical perspectives, methodologies, and data sources. To gain a full understanding of the experiences of the different network participants, as well as the interactive processes within the learning network, data were collected from multiple sources: interviews, participant observation, and videotaping. The conclusions stated in appended paper 1 and 2 are primarily based on the interviews, but they are also supported by the observations and written material. Paper three focuses on the videos in combination with the interviews. Finally, to complement the qualitative research with insights regarding the relationships among trust, learning, and self-efficacy, the last paper reports the results of a quantitative survey study. The dissertation makes several major contributions to knowledge. First and foremost, by combining entrepreneurship theory and learning theory, it describes the outcomes that can emerge from formal learning networks and shows how these outcomes can have entrepreneurial consequences. Second, it suggests how the learning situation can be characterized and describes an appropriate learning environment for entrepreneurs from small and medium sized enterprises. The research also contributes to theory on how trust in formal learning networks is built and how this trust contributes to entrepreneurial learning. At the same time, it shows that the potential benefits derived from trust cannot be realized without incorporating the entrepreneur’s level of self-efficacy in the analysis. The dissertation concludes by offering suggestions for exploiting learning and business opportunities through the construction and utilization of learning networks. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2009. , 81 p.
Series
Studier i företagsekonomi. Serie B, ISSN 0346-8291 ; 70
Keyword [en]
formal learning networks, entrepreneurs, small and medium sized enterprises, learning outcomes, learning situation
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-25691ISBN: 978-91-7264-848-7. OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-25691DiVA: diva2:236437
Distributor:
Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet, 90187, Umeå
Public defence
2009-11-07, Samhällsvetarhuset s205h, Umeå Universitet, samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-10-16 Created: 2009-08-28 Last updated: 2011-08-10Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Swedish inter-organisational learning network: Outcomes in three dimensions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Swedish inter-organisational learning network: Outcomes in three dimensions
2008 (English)In: International Journal of Business and Globalisation, ISSN 1753-3627, E-ISSN 1753-3635, Vol. 2, no 1, 56-71 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Based on findings from a national Swedish competence development project, known as krAft, this study focuses on the relevance of inter-organizational learning networks set up to support managerial competence development in SMEs. The networks that comprise the project are coordinated by a University consortium made up of four Universities in Sweden. Owner-Managers from SMEs in this project were combined into various networks, where a primary focus placed on learning. Interpretations of data from interviews with participants from one of these learning networks suggest constructed inter-organizational network an effective method to support learning of Owner-Managers from SMEs. This paper categorizes learning outcomes, as cognitive (knowledge), psychodynamic (emotion), and social (collaboration). A synthesis of these three types of learning outcomes can be used to further develop one’s business. The analysis demonstrates that the network method in relation to more traditional learning methods has strengths in developing psychodynamic and social outcomes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Inderscience Enterprises Ltd., 2008
Keyword
SMEs, small and medium-sized enterprises, Sweden, inter-organisational learning networks, learning outcomes, competence development, managerial competence, business development
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-26098 (URN)10.1504/IJBG.2008.016134 (DOI)
Available from: 2009-09-23 Created: 2009-09-23 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
2. Entrepreneurs in learning networks : Problems, opportunities, and implications for program design 
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Entrepreneurs in learning networks : Problems, opportunities, and implications for program design 
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Critiques of most existing competence development programs with respect to small firms is that they are not fully relevant to the firms; entrepreneurs in small firms need alternatives. An experiential learning approach, based on collaborative learning and work-related problems in learning networks, may fit the needs of the entrepreneur better than traditional methods based on passive theory centered lecturing. The distinctive nature of learning in small firms and the appropriateness of programs to support learning and development in those firms are largely unexplored from an empirical perspective. The purpose of this article is to suggest how different conditions related to learning networks may facilitate an appropriate learning situation for entrepreneurs. The findings show that for entrepreneurs to gain useful learning in learning networks, the management of the network should be demanding and various constructs in the learning situation must be considered.

National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-26099 (URN)
Note
Insänd till: International journal of business and globalisation, ISSN 1753-3627 år 2010. Available from: 2009-09-23 Created: 2009-09-23 Last updated: 2011-10-27Bibliographically approved
3. Entrepreneurs learning together: The importance of building trust for learning and exploiting business opportunities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Entrepreneurs learning together: The importance of building trust for learning and exploiting business opportunities
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
Abstract [en]

This longitudinal, qualitative case study examines trust-building processes and learning outcomes among entrepreneurs who participated in formal networks designed to develop competence and knowledge. This study is built on rich data collected through observation and video recordings made during network meetings and get-togethers. Additional data was gleaned from personal interviews with participating entrepreneurs. All data sources reveal on how trust develops and how entrepreneurs can use networks to learn and improve their capacity to exploit business opportunities. Studying how trust is built over time among entrepreneurs who demonstrate a low level of trust when they join the network, this study provides insights into micro-processes and important components of building trust. Findings suggest three processes that build commitment, companionship, and competence trust. Moreover, acknowledging the notion of social learning, the findings suggest that when entrepreneurs build trust with one another they can experience cognitive, emotional, and social changes by participating in a network. This may bring potential consequences for their exploiting opportunies. Implications for academics and managers are discussed.

National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-26100 (URN)
Note

Submitted 2010 to: International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, ISSN 1554-7191

Available from: 2009-09-23 Created: 2009-09-23 Last updated: 2012-08-24Bibliographically approved
4. Trust and self-efficacy in formal learning networks: the effects on entrepreneurs’ capacity to act upon business opportunities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Trust and self-efficacy in formal learning networks: the effects on entrepreneurs’ capacity to act upon business opportunities
2012 (English)In: International Journal of Innovation and Learning, ISSN 1471-8197, E-ISSN 1741-8089, Vol. 12, no 2Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In efforts to promote better realization of business opportunities, government support of formal policy led learning networks among entrepreneurs has been a popular approach world-wide. This article uses survey data from 109 entrepreneurs who took part in formal learning networks to examine how trust in network partners influences the capacity to act upon business opportunities for entrepreneurs. Further, we examine how this influence is moderated by the entrepreneurs’ own self-efficacy. Our results support a positive relationship between developing trust in other networking entrepreneurs and the capacity to act upon business opportunities. Self-efficacy was found to moderate this relationship. For entrepreneurs with low self-efficacy, results support an inverted U-shaped relationship, with the greatest outcomes reached with an intermediate level of trust. For entrepreneurs with high self-efficacy, a positive linear relationship is supported. We discuss implications for further research on trust and realization of opportunities, and for learning network policy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Inderscience, 2012
Keyword
learning, networks, entrepreneurs, trust, self-efficacy, business opportunities
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-40850 (URN)10.1504/IJIL.2012.048354 (DOI)
External cooperation:
Available from: 2011-03-11 Created: 2011-03-11 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
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