Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Business

Supervisor

Eric A. Morse

Abstract

The concept of “entrepreneurial culture” has existed for decades, described as an organizational culture embodying and championing entrepreneurial characteristics and attributes. These have included risk-taking, innovation, and creativity; the elements one would expect to see among entrepreneurs as individuals. The literature suggests that entrepreneurial culture is related to a number of positive organizational outcomes, such as generating new business and improving firm performance.

Despite years of entrepreneurial culture discussion, however, it remains a relatively ambiguous theoretical construct. Numerous perspectives have emerged describing the phenomenon and the concept, yet it remains unfocused and equivocal. Different definitions and sets of characteristics and attributes describe the concept inconsistently; empirical applications use inconsistent measures. Collectively, these theoretical deficiencies mean that despite the inherent value and interest in the subject, knowledge accumulation has been difficult.

This thesis addresses these deficiencies from both a conceptual and empirical perspective to answer the question: what is an entrepreneurial culture? To more clearly articulate the connection with entrepreneurship, I develop a new definition of the construct based around the broader concept of opportunities. Synthesizing the core characteristics and attributes of entrepreneurial culture, I propose a multi-dimensional theoretical model.

To empirically validate this model, I adopted a multi-method approach. I interviewed 12 entrepreneurs of Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises, to explore and expand on these conceptual dimensions. I generated a series of survey items to measure these dimensions and tested them with 45 doctoral student raters for content validity. A final questionnaire was developed and then deployed to 41 organizations, collecting data from 790 individual employees. The model was tested using multi-level structural equation modeling techniques.

The results of this study are a validated instrument to measure this new, clarified entrepreneurial culture construct. This study is an important step in understanding the nature and form of entrepreneurial culture as a firm-level construct and ways in which it might be measured. This conceptualization of entrepreneurial culture provides a springboard for future theorizing and research. This research helps generate important new insights into how organizational cultures can become more entrepreneurial, an exciting prospect for a diverse array of organizations.

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