What Do Entrepreneurs Actually Do? An Observational Study of Entrepreneurs' Everyday Behavior in the Start-Up and Growth Stages

Authors

  • Susan Mueller,

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship at EBS Business School in Oestrich-Winkel, Germany
    2. Swiss Research Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland
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  • Thierry Volery,

    Corresponding author
    1. Swiss Research Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland
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  • Björn von Siemens

    Corresponding author
    1. Swiss Research Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland
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Susan Mueller, tel.: +49 611 7102 1457; e-mail: susan.mueller@ebs.edu, to Thierry Volery at thierry.volery@unisg.ch, and to Björn von Siemens at bsiemens@fas.harvard.edu.

Abstract

In this study, we used the sociological method of structured observation to investigate the everyday behavior of six entrepreneurs in the start-up stage and six entrepreneurs in the growth stage. Our results suggest the existence of both commonalities and differences between these two stages with regard to activities, functions, exploration vs. exploitation, and communication. Building on these detailed observations, we develop a taxonomy specifying the constitutive elements of entrepreneurs' behavior on a continuum that spans from single, discrete actions of entrepreneurs to actions concerning the broader organization.

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