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Entrepreneurs in learning networks : Problems, opportunities, and implications for program design 
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
(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
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-26099OAI: diva2:236568
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
In thesis
1. Learning among entrepreneurs in formal networks: Outcomes, processes and beyond
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Learning among entrepreneurs in formal networks: Outcomes, processes and beyond
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.
Studier i företagsekonomi. Serie B, ISSN 0346-8291 ; 70
formal learning networks, entrepreneurs, small and medium sized enterprises, learning outcomes, learning situation
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-25691 (URN)978-91-7264-848-7. (ISBN)
Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet, 90187, Umeå
Public defence
2009-11-07, Samhällsvetarhuset s205h, Umeå Universitet, samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2009-10-16 Created: 2009-08-28 Last updated: 2011-08-10Bibliographically approved

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