What, exactly, is entrepreneurial strategy, anyway?
I regularly teach classes on entrepreneurship and new venture development, and more than occasionally drop in to provide my perspective on topics of interest to those forming or funding technology-driven, high-growth companies. Since I have been spending a lot more time up in front of students (and, thus, getting peppered with great questions), I have been giving a lot of thought to what passes for “entrepreneurial strategy” courses (or sections of courses). To me, it seems that the bulk of entrepreneurship pedagogy has, in a relatively brutish way, simply ported over the issues relevant in a typical strategic management class and attempted to convert those topics into material appropriate to the new venture setting. The more I think about it, the less persuaded I am that this is helpful for students; and I continue to have my suspicions that this approach forwards the research frontier.
Why we have decided to believe that the theories and questions in strategic management – relevant to large, established firms – apply equally well to either nascent or newly established firms merits further consideration. What evidence do we have that the same proscriptive advice we give in the case of large-firm strategy applies to nascent or newly established firms? And does that advice apply equally well for both innovative, high-growth firms (the software startup) and replicative entrepreneurship (a neighborhood bakery)?
In Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Peter Drucker notes, “I have not come across any discussion of entrepreneurial strategies. Yet they are important, and they are distinct, and they are different.” Consider that the next time you are perusing your local bookstore seeking insight on how to build a business.