Is Strategic Entrepreneurship a Pleonasm?

Entrepreneurship and strategy research have developed independently of each other (until recently), yet both Academy’s have been concerned about certain common topics: the sources of innovation, organizational renewal, wealth creation, competitive advantage, growth, and flexibility (see Alvarez, 2003; Stevenson & Jarillo, 1990; Ireland et al., 2001). Both academic fields are heavily influenced by the writings of Schumpeter and some of his concepts have been popularized in the literature as strategic intent (Hamel & Prahalad, 1989), hypercompetition (D’Aveni, 1994), dynamic capabilities (Teece et al., 1997) and the knowledge-based view of the firm (Winter, 1987).

A variety of notions relative to the interface of these two fields have been advanced. One extreme asserts strategic management is “dominant” over entrepreneurship and that future endeavors should concentrate on ‘making the marriage work’ given strategy’s ‘takeover’ (Baker & Pollock, 2007). Meyer (2009) cautions against the ‘takeover’ and ‘integration’ wording prevalent among some strategic management scholars by referencing Judge Learned Hand in a 1941 case of alleged unfair labor practices (National Labor Relations Board vs. Federbrush Co. 121F 2d, 304):

“Words must be analyzed in terms of the context in which they appear, for . . . ‘[w]ords are not pebbles in alien juxtaposition; they have only a communal existence; and not only does the meaning of each interpenetrate the other, but all in their aggregate take their purport from the setting in which they are used, of which the relation between the speaker and the hearer is perhaps the most important part’”.

Another extreme posits the inverse, that strategic management is itself a ‘subset’ of entrepreneurship (Browne & Harms, 2003). Andriuscenka (2003) on the other hand, refers to strategic entrepreneurship as the ‘successor’ of strategic management. V enkataraman & Sarasvathy (2005) use a “courtship” metaphor to liken strategic management to ‘all balcony and no Romeo’, and entrepreneurship being ‘all Romeo and no balcony’ inferring that they are “two sides of the same coin”. Thus, to take either one away, Romeo or the balcony, the whole story would fall apart. Schindehutte & Morris (2009) introduce the notion of a “fertile middle space” with various continua that allow for movement from one theoretical viewpoint to another and argue that strategic entrepreneurship is not a new territory to be colonized by either discipline. The most common notion is that overlapping areas of research, or points of “intersection” exist across both disciplines and that wealth can be created through combining the core advantages of each.

This article uses the Scopus database to quantify the surge of interest in strategic entrepreneurship that has emerged from the two formerly separate management academies of strategic management and entrepreneurship. Despite the growing number of published articles that have been written, the empirical base is still very small with authors positing a wide array of conceptual frameworks and models applicable to both small and large firms. Within the context of large firms, strategic entrepreneurship seems similar to its empirically tested predecessor, corporate entrepreneurship. The article argues that strategic entrepreneurship is somewhat confusing within a large corporation context and is essentially entrepreneurial orientation enacted with strategic intent that can still be best termed as corporate entrepreneurship. The article observes that despite the confusing elements of strategic entrepreneurship it is nevertheless gathering sponsorship and interest characteristic of an admittance-seeking social movement.

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(Author: Deryck J van Rensburg

Published by Sciedu Press)