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Advancing Theory in Entrepreneurship from the Lens of Operations Management



Early writings in economics describe the entrepreneur's role in terms of bearing the uncertainty inherent in new undertakings. Much of the research published in the pages of Production and Operations Management deals with management under uncertainty. The shared concerns over the impacts of multiple types of uncertainty suggest that research on Operations Management (OM) can play a role in the development of theory in entrepreneurship. We discuss aspects of such a role from two perspectives. First, we consider several topics in the OM literature that have clear applications or parallels in entrepreneurship. These topics include innovation, the management of technology, new product development, flexibility, and hedging strategies. Understanding these topical connections should aid in the development of tools and applications central to the practice of entrepreneurship. On another level, when we consider how the approaches to many of these topics in OM are grounded in theory adapted from Operations Research and Economics we argue that these same roots can be used as starting points for the development of theory in entrepreneurship. As examples, we will argue that the theoretical bases supporting robust optimization, stochastic dynamic programming, and even Total Quality Management can also serve as foundations of theories about the roles, practice, and behaviors of entrepreneurs.