World Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurship
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World Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurship

Edited by Léo-Paul Dana

This comprehensive reference work, written by some of the most eminent academics in the field, contains entries on numerous aspects of entrepreneurship.
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Chapter 3: Configuration Approach in Entrepreneurship Research

Rainer Harms and Sascha Kraus


Rainer Harms and Sascha Kraus The configuration approach is an approach to analyse (new) venture development and change. A configuration is ‘any multidimensional constellation of conceptually distinct characteristics that commonly occur together’ (Fiss, 2007: 1). Under a configuration perspective, organizations can be described as complex systems whose development and performance is influenced by interrelations between factors from the domains of environment, structure, strategy, and leadership (Miller, 1987). As a result of forces that select in factors that ‘fit’ within the context of a firm’s current position, and select out elements that do not, the configuration approach posits that there will be a limited number of empirically observable firm types (Miller et al., 1984). Following this perspective, Miller (1996: 507) describes a research programme for configuration research: ‘Since configurations are about organizational wholes, more should be done to discover their thematic and systemic aspects – to probe into just why and how their elements interrelate and complement each other to produce the driving character of an enterprise.’ This perspective can be applied to the context of entrepreneurship, as research has acknowledged that there are different types of new ventures. For instance, hightechnology start-ups in the information technology (IT) sector might be very different along various domains compared to a newly founded coffee store. Since the relationships between the domains that constitute these new venture ‘types’ may be very different, research ought to take these differences into account. Gartner et al. (1989) argue that entrepreneurship research can benefit from an explicit study of...

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