Frontiers in European Entrepreneurship Research
Edited by Robert Blackburn, Frédéric Delmar, Alain Fayolle and Friederike Welter
Chapter 4: A configurational approach to entrepreneurial orientation
Entrepreneurial orientation (EO) has been the object of stimulating theoretical debate for over 30 years. Some scholars adopt a unidimensional view, where the three dimensions of innovation, risk-taking, and proactiveness covary (e.g. Covin and Slevin 1991). Others adopt a multidimensional view, where these same three dimensions may vary independently (e.g. Kreiser and Davis 2010; Kreiser et al. 2002; Miller 1983, 2011), while others add the dimensions of competitive aggressiveness and autonomy (Lumpkin and Dess 1996). The pursuit to identify the relationship between EO and firm performance has attracted much scholarly interest (Rauch et al. 2009), becoming central (Miller 2011). This relationship may depend on different internal and external variables. Many scholars have called for configurational research in EO (Miller 1996, 2011; Covin and Lumpkin 2011; Wales et al. 2011; Covin and Wales 2012). We propose here a configurational analysis, directly inspired by Miller’s 1983 work, based on the interaction of the variables most often found in the literature, and reinforced by Miller in 2011. This approach allows for the generation of types of firms which can offer an explanation that reflects the complexity of situations. Configurational research responds to three research goals: describe, explain, and predict (Short et al. 2008). Elaborating groups of firms that are similar enables the description of the salient traits of each group (Dess et al. 1997) and gives access to a better understanding of organizations through the study of intrinsically homogeneous groups.
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