How One Study on Entrepreneurial Orientation Would Impact the Field

An Interview with a 10-Year Impact Award Winner 

Amidst a pandemic, when research findings are published at breakneck speeds, our appreciation for previously published research to build on only increases. But a “need for speed” is also apparent in how we value published research: current relied-upon measures rely on two years of citations in academic literature, a time period often much too short to determine lasting impact. How do we recognize research with impact that grows or changes over time?  

SAGE Publishing, the parent of Social Science Space, launched the 10-Year Impact Awards to move the impact conversation beyond the short termism often associated with commonly used metrics such as Journal Impact Factor. This is an especially important change in outlook for social and behavioral science, where influence can last longer or grow for years as compared to physical sciences. 

Over a decade ago, researchers Andreas Rauch, Johan Wiklund, G.T. Lumpkin, and Michael Frese began looking at the connection between business performance and ‘entrepreneurial orientation’—the entrepreneurial governing style of a business. Published in 2009 in the journal Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, their research, “Entrepreneurial Orientation and Business Performance: An Assessment of Past Research and Suggestions for the Future,” received more than 1,000 citations in 10 years, with more than 400 in the past two years alone. This paper has won a 10-Year Impact Award.  

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing interviews with the authors of the winning articles to learn more about how their research has influenced other studies over time. To start, we reached out to Rauch, Wiklund, Lumpkin, and Frese to hear their thoughts.  

In your estimation, what in your research – and obviously the 2009 published paper – is it that has inspired others or that they have glommed onto? 

Clockwise from upper left: Andreas Rauch, Johan Wiklund, G.T. Lumpkin, and Michael Frese

There are three issues that inspired other researchers:  

First, our publication was the first one that could show that the relationship between entrepreneurial orientation and performance is comparatively high. The effect size across studies is much higher than, for example, the relationship between innovation and performance or the relationship between planning and performance. It was obvious that we identified an important relationship in the domain of entrepreneurship and maybe the strongest relationship uncovered so far because entrepreneurial orientation goes directly at the heart of entrepreneurship.  

Second, from our results it became obvious that there are third variables affecting the relationship between entrepreneurial orientation and firm performance. As a consequence, researchers started looking into such explanations.  

Finally, since the importance of the relationship is so obvious and since it was established across studies using meta-analysis, the results suggest strong practice implications that firms should use to develop a strong entrepreneurial orientation. It also inspired a lot of researchers in business and entrepreneurship research to use the method of meta-analysis (our article was one of the first meta-analyses in business). 

What, if anything, would you have done differently in the paper (or underlying research) if you were to go back in time and do it again? 

As often in management research, we need to develop interventions and evaluate the value of such interventions. We certainly did not do that often enough. What works and what does not work? It would have been nice if we would have started to develop a training program and to test whether such a training helps making firms more entrepreneurial and successful. A similar type of long-term field intervention experiment as the one done by Campos et al. (2017) might be useful here. 

What direct feedback – as opposed to citations – have you received in the decade since your paper appeared? 

All of us get requests very frequently from young researchers to help with their research in entrepreneurship. It is often seen as a model of how to develop a good formula for entrepreneurship. Of course, our recommendation is usually to examine more detailed mediators and moderators of the relationship between entrepreneurial orientation and success.  

How have others built on what you published? (And how have you yourself built on it?) 

Some of us have done a number of additional meta-analyses and integrative reviews in the area of entrepreneurship as well as specific questions of entrepreneurial orientation (Frese, Rousseau, & Wiklund, 2014; Nason & Wiklund, 2018; Rauch et al., 2013; Rauch, Rosenbusch, Unger, & Frese, 2016Rosenbusch, Rauch, & Bausch, 2013; Unger, Rauch, Frese, & Rosenbusch, 2011; Wiklund, Patzelt, & Shepherd, 2009; Zhao, Seibert, & Lumpkin, 2010). There has also been a number of special issues on entrepreneurial orientation.  

Thus, the paper stimulated a huge amount of subsequent research on the entrepreneurial orientation concept. This research aimed to further differentiate the concept. I see several streams of research that emerged. First, research searching for moderators as already suggested by Lumpkin and Dess (1996). Today, a contingency theory is well established, showing e.g., that entrepreneurial orientation is more successful in unfavorable environments, in small firms, and in certain national environments. Second, the conceptualization and the measurement of entrepreneurial orientation became of focal interest of research and, finally, researchers started looking into antecedents of entrepreneurial orientation and on how firms develop such an orientation.  

Could you name a paper (or other scholarly work) that has had the most, or at least a large, impact on you and your work?  

Shane, S., & Venkataraman, S. (2000). The promise of entrepreneurship as a field of research. Academy of Management Review, 25(1), 217-226.  

The paper is inspiring as it (1) defined entrepreneurship as a behavior, (2) understands entrepreneurial orientation as a nexus between entrepreneurial individuals and the environment, and (3) points to a key issue in entrepreneurship research – how to study a prior phenomenon (opportunity) of which the outcome (firm performance) might be years ahead.  


References 

Campos, F., Frese, M., Goldstein, M., Iacovone, L., Johnson, H., McKenzie, D., & Mensmann, M. (2017). Teaching personal initiative beats traditional business training in boosting small business in West AfricaScience, 357, 1287–1290.  

Frese, M., Rousseau, D. M., & Wiklund, J. (2014). The emergence of evidence-based entrepreneurshipEntrepreneurship: Theory & Practice, 38, 209-216.  

Lumpkin, G. T., & Dess, G. G. (1996). Clarifying the entrepreneurial orientation construct and linking it to performanceAcademy of Management Review, 21(1), 135-172.  

Nason, R. S., & Wiklund, J. (2018). An Assessment of Resource-Based Theorizing on Firm Growth and Suggestions for the FutureJournal of Management, 44(1), 32-60. doi:10.1177/0149206315610635 

Rauch, A., Frese, M., Wang, Z.-M., Unger, J., Lozada, M., Kupcha, V., & Spirina, T. (2013). National culture and cultural orientations of owners affecting the innovation-growth relationship in five countriesEntrepreneurship & Regional Development: An International Journal, 25, 732-755.  

Rauch, A., Rosenbusch, N., Unger, J., & Frese, M. (2016). The effectiveness of cohesive and diversified networks: A meta-analysis. Journal of Business Research, 69(2), 554-568. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2015.05.011 

Rosenbusch, N., Rauch, A., & Bausch, A. (2013). The mediating role of entrepreneurial orienation in the task environment- performance relationship: A meta-analysisJournal of Management, 39, 633-659.  

Unger, J. M., Rauch, A., Frese, M., & Rosenbusch, N. (2011). Human capital and entrepreneurial success: A meta-analytic reviewJournal of Business Venturing, 26, 341–358.  

Wiklund, J., Patzelt, H., & Shepherd, D. A. (2009). Building an integrative model of small business growthSmall Business Economics, 32, 351–374.  

Zhao, H., Seibert, S. E., & Lumpkin, G. T. (2010). The relationship of personality to entrepreneurial intentions and performance: A meta-analytic reviewJournal of Management, 36(2), 381-404.  

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