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Dissertation Defense Presentation

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A presentation used to defend my research and final dissertation submission towards a PhD in Organizational Psychology

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Dissertation Defense Presentation

  1. 1. A Phenomenological Inquiry of the Entrepreneurial Orientation Phenomenon Based on the Lived Experiences of Founder-Owners of Private Companies Dissertation Oral Defense Submitted to Northcentral University Graduate Faculty of the School of Psychology in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Timothy G. Kelly, J.D., M.B.A. February, 2015
  2. 2. Agenda Introduction Literature Review Research Method Assumptions, Limitations, Delimitations and Ethical Assurances Findings Implications and Recommendations A special thanks goes to my Chair, Dr. Kelley Chappell, PhD for mentoring me through this valuable learning experience! 1
  3. 3. Introduction  What factors are most related to a company’s long-term financial success?  Entrepreneurial Orientation (EO) has been found to be one such factor  Miller (1983) introduced two organizational archetypes reflecting a firm’s environmental adaptability, decision making processes, and strategy-making attributes  Entrepreneurial: presence of three behavioral attributes of risk taking, innovativeness, and proactivity  Conservative: lacking one or more of the entrepreneurial attributes  Scholarly debate continues concerning how best to:  Define the EO phenomenon and its source;  View its operationalization (e.g., dimensionality); and,  Identify and measure its manifestation 2
  4. 4. Methodological Design  A descriptive phenomenological psychological design following the Giorgi (2009, 2012) framework with  Data collected through semi-structured interviews with 11 founder- owners (FOs) of privately owned companies who have lived experiences with the EO phenomenon at their respective firms Introduction Statement of Problem: Lack of a conceptually coherent and stable understanding of fundamental aspects of the EO phenomenon Purpose of the Study: Advance the understanding of the EO phenomenon Research Question. How do FOs of privately owned U.S. based companies who have lived experiences with the EO phenomenon at their companies describe its source, dimensionality, and manifestation? Critical Focus: A Carefully Aligned Dissertation Structure3
  5. 5. Significance of the Study  Source data was collected from a novel and valuable group of participants  Miller (1983) and others have called for more qualitative I/O psychology based EO research  Study responds to debate concerning the phenomenon’s source, dimensionality, and manifestation (Fayolle et al., 2010; Dess et al., 2011).  A more developed theoretical understanding of EO offers the ability to  Broaden its practical application  Improve firm and country level performance  Enhance employment opportunities and employee satisfaction Introduction Study Responds to Calls for More Qualitative Research Offering Many Scientific and Practical Benefits 4
  6. 6. Documentation Recent peer reviewed articles; scholarly journals in the fields of I/O psychology, business, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, management, and marketing; relevant dictionaries, encyclopedias, textbooks. Defining Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneur  Lack of single definition causes: confusion (Peneder, 2009), category error (Sarasvathy & Venkataraman, 2011), a “hodgepodge” (Shane, 2012, p. 11), impeding nearly every research effort so far (Okhomina, 2010), and a mess (Tedmanson, Verduyn, Essers, & Gartner, 2012).  This study defined the term entrepreneurship as the recognition, pursuit, and exploitation of opportunities (Peneder, 2009) Literature Review Entrepreneurship is fundamentally a personal phenomenon “Trying to understand entrepreneurship without understanding the entrepreneur is like trying to understand Shakespeare without taking Hamlet into consideration" (Grigore, 2012, p. 25) What is or makes a person an entrepreneur is a question best suited for I/O psychologists (Baron & Henry, 2011). Factors related to entrepreneurship Context and externalities Entrepreneurial cognition Alertness Personality traits Rational and intuitive cognitive styles Locus of control and risk tolerance 5
  7. 7. Literature Review Conceptualizing Entrepreneurial Orientation – The Big Debate Lumpkin and Dess (1996) EO ModelMiller, Covin and Slevin EO Model (Covin & Slevin, 1991; Miller, 1983, 2011) Scholars Do Not Agree Which Model Best Defines the EO Phenomenon 6
  8. 8. Research Method Research Methods and Design  A descriptive phenomenological psychological method research design (Giorgi, 2009, 2011) was employed  Seeking a deeper understanding of the EO phenomenon’s: Source, Dimensionality, and Manifestation  Data collected through semi-structured interviews of founder-owners (FOs) of privately owned companies with lived experiences of the EO phenomenon Participant selection Interviewing – Data collection Data analysis - Within the attitude of the scientific phenomenological reduction 1. Transcripts were read several times to get a sense of the whole experience and situation 3. Using free imaginative variation, meaning units were transformed into psychological meaning units highlighting participant’s lived experiences with the phenomenon Instrumentation structuring 4. Psychological meaning units were synthesized into a general psychological structure of the EO phenomenon 2. Data were reduced to smaller, more manageable transformed meaning units 7
  9. 9. Population and Sampling  Purposive and sub-group sampling criteria identified 15 FOs  Criteria targeted FOs from firms with a strong EO and with requisite experience with the EO phenomenon to provide valuable and rich data  11 FOs (nine males/two females) agreed to participate, signed IC forms, and provided data through semi-structured interviews conducted by telephone. 8
  10. 10. Assumptions  FOs could objectively, honestly, and richly describe their lived EO experiences; and  FO could provide sufficiently genuine and varied life-world experiences Limitations  Researcher was the primary research instrument;  Researcher’s dual role as both investigator as well as an intersubjective participant;  Success bias in the data as well as participant self-reporting/self-attribution biases; and,  Limited generalizability of the findings as normally present in qualitative studies. Delimitations  High evidentiary/analytical quality standards enhanced finding’s trustworthiness/credibility;  FOs are quintessential entrepreneurs driving their firm’s strategic behaviors with exceptionally rich informative data; and,  Subgroup sampling aimed at improved experiential memory recall Ethical Assurances  NCU IRB approval for both the study and form of IC used was obtained prior to any data collection;  Carefully structured and executed interview protocols; and  Participant confidentiality, comfort, knowledge of process/rights were paramount 9
  11. 11. Data Collection, Processing, and Analysis  Each collection, processing, and analysis stage was performed consistent with the Giorgi (2009, 2012) method to:  Insure analysis was systematic, rigorous, methodologically consistent, and  Establish an auditable trail of the research for replication purposes.  All anonymously coded raw transcript data and results were documented electronically.  High standards of evidentiary and analytical quality were maintained to enhance the study’s overall trustworthiness and credibility of the findings (Hastings, 2010; Tracy, 2010) 10
  12. 12. Data Collection, Processing, and Analysis Stage Four of the process produced an intersubjective, nomothetic essence, and general psychological structure of EO 11
  13. 13. EO source elements The EO phenomenon appears to be an aspirational and dispositional goal of entrepreneurs ... It resides in the entrepreneur’s mind and heart… it does not arise from the company defending its market position, but is nourished and grown by entrepreneurs as they actively build their companies... FOs of newly started companies seem to derive extreme energy, conviction, and clarity of focus from knowing what they want to accomplish to grow their businesses… FOs seem to thrive on the roller coaster feel of their company … nurturing the nascent business like one nurtures one’s own infant, remaining strong in their convictions yet flexible in response to market changes… EO dimensional elements An EO presents itself as a firm’s competitive advantage; it is reflected in the firm’s competitive astuteness and its keen competitive insights. A team within a company that has an EO never sleeps. An EO is not seen as a false sense of security by the team; instead, an EO encourages the team to question, learn, research, and innovate to stay ahead of competitors and market threats… a company that has an EO does not do for the sake of doing, it does because it makes sense and because it is right for the company’s constituents. An EO is reflected by the company being visibly strategic and forward thinking, innovative, calculated risk accepting, and proactive… EO manifestation elements An EO manifests itself in the mind of every employee through a shared mission, a common pride in what they are doing, and a sense of community amongst the team. The environment of a company with an EO is constantly hustling, restless, and paranoid... The team rates their jobs as rewarding but insecure, because insecurity to them means it’s not a bureaucratic boringly limited mobility environment…The EO phenomenon in this regard does not reveal itself as a moment in time manifestation or experience, but a constant journey that must be vigilantly nurtured to keep in place and active… General Psychological Structure of EO 12
  14. 14. Mixed: Mintzberg’s theory of organizational structure (TOS)  Strategy making is a firm-wide phenomenon incorporating an organization’s mission, culture, and values along with elements of planning, analysis, and decision-making  Entrepreneurial stage firms grow through leaders’ opportunity recognition abilities  Contradicts TOS that leaders make bold and highly uncertain decisions to grow Findings Relative to EO’s Theoretical Foundations Mixed: Schumpeter’s Theory of Entrepreneurship (TOE)  No evidence that monetary gain motivates a new venture (being unemployed or terminating employment to flee bureaucracy were common) versus TOE’s economically motivated agent theory  FO descriptors like adapting, survival, and keen strategic orientations are consistent with the TOE’s organismic modes of adaptation and survival theory Consistent: Khandwalla’s organizational contingency theory (OCT)  Competitive awareness, constant learning, customer focus, forward thinking, and opportunity recognition are critical dimensions to presence of an EO and growth  EO’s manifestation is more leadership level and dispositional (OCT) versus firm level and behavioral (TOE) 13
  15. 15. Does size matter?  Affirm Miller (1983, 2011) that small firms foster EO more than larger bureaucratic ones  Suggests, however, that size is secondary to degree to which bureaucracy exists Finds Relative to Existing Literature Cognitive research Contradicts literature that theorizes an entrepreneur’s nACH will reflect a tendency to do things quickly and independently (Bhuian et al., 2010; Hunter, 2012). Entrepreneurial intentions Closely track scholars’belief that three psychological motivations underscore an entrepreneurial initiative: “power” motivator (Peneder, 2009, p. 84); “ambition” motivator (Peneder, 2009, p. 84); and, the ”joy of creating, of getting things done, or simply of exercising one’s energy and ingenuity” (Peneder, 2009, p. 84). Importance of context relative to entrepreneurial behaviors Inconsistent of a contextual nature behind FOs starting their firms. Participants reflected common entrepreneurial tendencies, such as opportunity recognition, risk acceptance, desirous of building an EO company, and other such characteristics; but, not all founded their company from an overt desire to be an entrepreneur. Market conditions effect on EO EO not found to vary with changing market conditions or competitor aggressiveness in contradiction to the literature 14
  16. 16. Conceptualizations of the EO phenomenon  EO source  Firm support for the Firm-level Model’s conceptualization that FOs instill a host of cognitive, dispositional, organizational, and cultural elements into a company in an attempt to make it entrepreneurial and successful from its beginning.  But, more alignment with the Individual-level Model that these elements are more aspirational and proactive versus defensive to the marketplace.  EO manifestation  EO manifests in a variety of ways beyond merely new venture creation  Aligns more with the Firm-level Model than Individual-level Model in this regard  EO dimensionality  Findings suggest that the EO phenomenon contains far more dimensionality than Miller’s (1983, 2011) risk taking, innovativeness, and proactiveness dimensions  Findings suggest that there are additional dimensions of the phenomenon worth exploring; such as internal factors of EO Sensations, Community, Driven, and Public Recognition Findings Relative to Existing Literature 15
  17. 17. Implications EO Source Implications  Findings that an EO flows from an aspirational orientation parallels the Individual- level Model’s dispositional conceptualization. This is a critical finding questions much of the extant literature that favors the Firm-level Model (Covin & Miller, 2014).  Findings suggest a more hybrid model, possessing elements of both the Individual- level and Firm-levels Models, may more properly conceptualize the EO phenomenon. EO Dimensionality and Manifestation  Findings suggest a host of additional dimensions similar to those that Covin and Miller (2014) dismiss as spurious construct expansion: a competitive awareness (e.g., resource assembly), a constant learning (e.g., prior learning), customer focus (e.g., resource assembly), and a forward thinking strategic posture (e.g., resource assembly).  Findings suggest such additional factors are worthy of further study Recommendations  More psychology-based research into the phenomenon is warranted  Further exploration into how dispositional intentions beyond the founder affect the creation of an EO seems justified  I/O psychologists should study the pathology of firms that have failed to maintain an EO as a way to better understand the phenomenon  I/O psychologists should explore ways to convert the vast wealth of knowledge concerning the EO phenomenon into practical academic course material16
  18. 18. Thank you for allowing me to provide this overview of my research! Are there any questions? 17

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