Hvem er entreprenøren – og hvordan kan du trenes til å bli en?

En rykende fersk doktorgradstudie avdekker ny kunnskap om hva som trigger entreprenørskap og hvordan et kreativt tankesett kan læres bort. 

Høgskolelektor Matthew Patrick James Lynch avbildet da han helt nylig disputerte med doktorgradsstudien «Entrepreneurial Mindset: Defining the concept, how to measure it, how to teach it and its role in the venture creation process». På grunn av koronasituasjonen måtte disputasen foregå digitalt. (Foto: Privat)

- Verden står overfor utallige utfordringer. Entreprenørskap representerer en metode for å finne de nødvendige og gode løsningene og er derfor mer relevant enn noen gang tidligere.

Det sier høgskolelektor Matthew Patrick James Lynch som helt nylig disputerte med doktorgradstudien «Entrepreneurial Mindset: Defining the concept, how to measure it, how to teach it and its role in the venture creation process». 

“What is the role of entrepreneurial mindset in separating those who take entrepreneurial actions from those who have the intention to take entrepreneurial action but never do?"
Matthew Patrick James Lynch , høgskolelektor og forsker

Lynch underviser til daglig ved Avdeling for ingeniørfag og jobber innenfor temaene entrepreneurial mindset, design thinking og innovation. Doktorgradsarbeidet i innovasjon er gjennomført ved Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet (NTNU).

Selv forklarer han interessen for temaet på følgende måte:
- I've been fascinated by entrepreneurship for the past 15 years. I've transitioned from studying it, to doing it, to now teaching entrepreneurship. Having taught entrepreneurship at the University level since 2014 I have seen numerous examples of what doesn’t work, and more importantly what does.

Lynch er opprinnelig fra New Zealand og har de siste årene jobbet med ingenøravdelingen på Høgskolen i Østfold.

Resten av denne artikkelen er basert på hans egen beskrivelse av forskningsarbeidet og finnes kun på engelsk. 

What is entrepreneurial mindset?

The world is facing numerous challenges, and entrepreneurship represents one method for introducing solutions to solve these challenges. For this reason, entrepreneurship is more relevant today than ever. Yet when we examine those who want to be entrepreneurs, or generate entrepreneurial outcomes, we see that a great many of them do not succeed. When we dig further we see that there is a cognitive element to this, as nothing physically prevents people from becoming entrepreneurs. We posit that it is an entrepreneurial mindset (“EM”) that allows some people to take entrepreneurial actions under circumstances of uncertainty in order to create ventures. 

 "We can see there is a connection between the way people think, the way they talk and the results they generate in the context of entrepreneurship. When students undergo learning experiences based around design thinking as a pedagogy, based on their own reflections, they appear to develop a more entrepreneurial mindset."

This leads to the primary research question of this thesis, which is: what is the role of EM in separating those who take entrepreneurial actions from those who have the intention to take entrepreneurial action but never do? In order to examine this research question, I first began by examining three sub-questions that inform our overarching research question. The first of these is: how do you define and conceptualise what is meant by an EM? 

In order to answer this, I begin with an overview of key literature on mindset and cognition. Two themes became apparent to me from reading literature on this topic. The first is that there has been thorough research into individual cognitive elements, such as biases, heuristics, beliefs, roles, schemas, identity, expert cognition, meta cognition and personality – yet none of these individually provides insights into what is EM. The second theme which comes through from examining existing literature is that existing conceptions of EM are focused on what I describe as “high level descriptions”: they describe broad outcomes such as a willingness to act under uncertainty, or an ability to identify and exploit opportunities. These conceptions are overly broad and are focused on the expected outcomes of having an EM, instead of describing what an EM is. To resolve this gap between individual parts of cognition and high level broad descriptions, I set out to provide a conceptualisation of EM. I define EM as: An automated non-conscious perspective including the sum total of cognitive processes; that lead to an individual’s willingness to take action under uncertainty, make errors, learn from those failures and direct that learning to specific goals to best solve the entrepreneurial tasks within the process of venture creation (Lynch & Corbett, 2019). 

Entrepreneurial mindset – how to measure it?

This new conceptualisation of EM is based on bringing across work from the field of cognitive psychology and synthesising prior research from outside of entrepreneurship. What separates the proposed conception of EM from prior literature is an acceptance that is not one thing or concept, but rather it is something far more fluid and changing. This conception allows for both mistakes and learning, and is important as a distinction from existing conceptions of EM. 

Having conceived of what we mean by EM, the thesis moves onto examining the second research question: how can we measure EM? 

We show that prior research measures something other than mindset, and it is often focused on aspects of personality, despite entrepreneurship as field having moved on from personality as a crucial determining factor in entrepreneurial outcomes. Alternative measures also focus on individual elements of cognition, such as risk propensity, need for achievement or meta-cognition. While these elements all play a role in EM, they only partially contribute to our conception of EM. We therefor set out to test a novel method for measuring EM, using language as a proxy for cognition. This is based on the argument that what we talk about and how we talk about it reflects what we think about it and the way we think about it. Based on this argument, our research examines the ways in which expert entrepreneurs use language differently from less expert entrepreneurs. The result is five themes that are consistent with similar work on measuring how expert entrepreneurs think with regards to venture creation.

Entrepreneurial mindset – how to teach it?

Having conceived of EM and developed a methodology to measure it, we then set out to examine how to teach EM. This is an important theme based on that bringing about change in the world requires more entrepreneurs to take more entrepreneurial action. This thesis is built around the idea that EM plays a role in giving individuals the mental resources they need to bring ideas into reality. Therefore, finding an appropriate pedagogy that fosters this is crucial. 

In examining the existing literature on pedagogy, we find that learning from experience has gained popularity, and that within this field, design thinking (“DT”) as a practice orientated methodology can be useful for teaching EM. This leads to the third and final research question: why is DT a useful pedagogy for teaching EM? 

In investigating this research question I first describe our conception of DT, and explain how this contributes to having students practice the different elements of EM. We then delve into student reflections on DT to elaborate on what students receive out of this pedagogy. In order to provide some practical suggestions on how to teach DT, we also include a section on the practical aspects of organizing teaching interventions based on DT. These suggestions are based on prior experience with teaching DT in the context of entrepreneurship.

Lastly, in order to answer the overarching research question and explain how EM plays a role in entrepreneurial action, I also describe the way EM influences an entrepreneur’s world view, and their choice in responding to entrepreneurial stimuluses, such as opportunities. I show congruence between our conception of EM and existing literature and elaborate on the way EM impacts goal achievement/venture creation. 

Entrepreneurial mindset – new conceptualisation

I link EM with a model from cognitive psychology called the Rubicon model. This model shows the stages that people move through in their quest to achieve challenging goals, and the role of mindset in this process. The model highlights the two key mindsets used by entrepreneurs: elaborative mindset and implementive mindset.

The thesis is based on 9 individual research articles. These articles use a variety of methods, including qualitative, qualitative, case studies, participant observation, surveys and interviews. The range of articles and methods provide a way to triangulate the perspectives discussed, and each article contributes to the research questions in different ways, with a sense of overlap often existing between the articles. As a body of work, this thesis represents contributions in the form of providing a new conceptualisation of EM and provides a synthesis of existing perspectives. If offers up several new models of the role of EM in influencing behaviour of entrepreneurs. The thesis also provides a new method of measuring EM and provides insight into how to teach EM in a way that has not been fully researched before. Like all pieces of research it also opens many new questions as well as providing new insights on old questions. This thesis plays a role in furthering our insight in the role of EM in creating entrepreneurial outcomes.

What are your thoughts regarding any future research on the topic?
- I am curious to better understand the language successful entrepreneurs use, and to better understand how this reflects the way they think about situations and interpret opportunities and challenges they face. The methodology for using language to give us insight into people’s thought processes is relatively underdeveloped, and has a lot of potential.


Av Ann-Kristin Johansen
Publisert 29. apr. 2020 13:57 - Sist endret 16. juni 2021 13:28