Historical Foundations of Entrepreneurship Research
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Historical Foundations of Entrepreneurship Research

Edited by Hans Landström and Franz T. Lohrke

This book historicizes entrepreneurship research, its primary thesis being ‘history matters’. Expert contributors discuss the field’s long history and explore whether it has developed a mature and comprehensive knowledge base. The intellectual roots of several important theories are then examined in depth because, as entrepreneurship research has become more theory driven, and scholars have borrowed theories from many different fields, it becomes increasingly important to understand their origin. Finally, the book demonstrates how economic history research (for example, the historical and institutional context of entrepreneurial behaviour) can contribute to our understanding of entrepreneurship.
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Chapter 10: Entrepreneurial Groups

Martin Ruef


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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