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Subject New perspective on entrepreneurial learning and its relations with social capital and performance
Mariusz Bratnicki, Wojciech Dudych & Monika Kulikowska; Karol Adamiecki University of Economics, Poland
Outline Entrepreneurial learning is an important and complex construct that captures a wide spectrum of activities. It has long interested HRD theorists (Maurer, 2002; Wang & Wang, 2004). Economic, organisational, sociological and psychological analyses often focused on the processes through which novel events are sensed and exploited as opportunities. These observations suggest the importance of contextual and temporal factors in determining an organisationís entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial learning. We are specifically concerned with the how and why entrepreneurial learning in  organisations can explicitly create a context for developing optimal level of social capital and influence performance. 
    The primary challenge of this research was to determine the relations between entrepreneurial learning by managing the  organisation in the entrepreneurial way,  organisational social capital, and performance in the Polish  organisations. In our work we present contemporary approaches towards analysing the ways in which entrepreneurs learn when managing their SMEs, and use the Stevensonís concept of entrepreneurship as opportunity-based management (Stevenson, Jarillo 1990), and its operationalisation developed by Brown, Davidsson and Wiklund (2001). Based on the work of Bullen and Onyx (2000), Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998) we analyze the elements of entrepreneursí social capital potential, and link them with the above operationalisation of entrepreneurship and performance. 
    The empirical research was carried out in the first half of 2002. We developed a two-part questionnaire assessing the levels of entrepreneurial learning and social capital potential. We conducted a survey among respondents from a wide variety of business companies operating in Poland. In sum, a total of 236  organisations were identified as meeting the criteria specified in the questionnaire present in the researched companies. In order to test the constructed hypotheses, we used factor analysis with varimax rotation, correlation analysis, and cluster analysis. The sales growth figure and the synthetic McKenzie indicator were used to evaluate performance. 
    Our research revealed new elements of social capital potential, not six as defined by Bullen and Onyx (2000). The empirical results identified new elements (positive behaviors in the network, teamwork). These elements operate within the three strongly applicable dimensions of social capital (structural, relational, and cognitive) as described by Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998). The research has proved, that there is a relatively strong relation between entrepreneurial learning and performance, moderated by social capital. The strongest relations lie between managersí entrepreneurial orientation towards managing their SMEs, entrepreneurship culture and performance. They create the strongest configuration for influencing performance.  
Source Paper presented at the 6th international conference on HRD research and practice across Europe: Human resource development - addressing the value. Leeds 25-27 May 2005. (Abstract; full paper incl. in CD-ROM).
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