The Socio-Cognitive Dynamics of Entrepreneurial Ideation


Robert M. Gemmell, tel.: (404) 432-1707; e-mail:, to Richard J. Boland at, and to David A. Kolb at


How do entrepreneurs obtain the creative ideas they need to develop innovative new products? We interviewed 32 technology entrepreneurs to generate a grounded theory as to how technology entrepreneurs use social behaviors, techniques, and cognitive processes to generate, validate, and refine ideas for new products, processes, or services. The results reveal a complex, cyclical, and recursive multilevel social process emphasizing active and social experimentation. Greatest ideational productivity occurs when “trusted partners” exchange and refine ideas through a form of shared cognition. The findings will be useful to researchers and practitioners interested in entrepreneurship, social creativity, and management team dynamics.