Chapter 10: Entrepreneurial Groups
Martin Ruef INTRODUCTION To many observers, a focus on entrepreneurial groups – or, more colloquially, venture ‘founding teams’ – is a thoroughly modern pre-occupation. It was only in the late 1980s and early 1990s that scholars in business management and policy began to question the image of the heroic individual found in traditional treatments of entrepreneurship. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, the economist Robert Reich (who would become Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor six years later) argued that ‘to compete effectively in today’s world, we must begin to celebrate collective entrepreneurship’ rather than ‘the traditional myth of the entrepreneurial hero’ (1987, p. 78). Some management thinkers had touted the importance of ‘team entrepreneurship’ as much as a decade earlier (e.g. Timmons, 1975; 1979), but a new generation of scholars were the first to call for a systematic program of research that would document the prevalence of entrepreneurial groups, describe their properties, and assess their impact on business performance (e.g. Kamm et al., 1990; Gartner et al., 1994). In a review of developments in entrepreneur research and theory, Gartner and colleagues (1994, p. 6) noted that ‘the “entrepreneur” in entrepreneurship is more likely to be plural, rather than singular’. They offered an expansive definition of the entrepreneurial group, which included owner-managers, investors, organizational decision-makers, family members, advisors, critical suppliers and buyers as possible candidates in the entrepreneur role. Contributors to the management literature have primarily displayed an interest in teams as a contemporary phenomenon. In this chapter, I suggest that the historical...
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