Entrepreneurial volition to take action and the United States markets of the 1990s, JA Black, G Farias

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3 ENTREPRENEURIAL VOLITION TO 5 TAKE ACTION AND THE UNITED 7 STATES MARKETS OF THE 1990S 9
11 Janice A. Black and Gerard Farias 13 ABSTRACT 15 It is no surprise that markets are Complex systems (Anderson, 1999, 17 Organization Science, 10, 216­232). Their apparent complexity has risen in recent years (D'Aveni, 1994, Hypercompetition. New York, NY: Free 19 Press; Black & Farias, 2000, Emergence, 2(1), 101­113). The cycles of apparent complexity in the market place have been attributed to entre21 preneurs taking action (Black & Fabian, 2000. In: Sanchez & Heene (Eds), Theory development for competence-based strategic management. 23 Chichester: Wiley; Black & Farias, 2000). Indeed being able to take action in the face of uncertainty and ambiguity is a potential entrepre25 neurial competency (Black & Farias, 2000). Understanding that compe- tence and its influence on the markets can be a necessary competence for 27 today's managers. This chapter presents a model of entrepreneurial action taking, some influences on the market, and then examines the Dot.Com 29 phenomena during the heat of the Dot.Com frenzy for evidence of action taking preferences. 31
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35 A Focused Issue on Understanding Growth: Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Diversification
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Research in Competence-Based Management, Volume 3, 31­44 Copyright r 2005 by Elsevier Ltd.
All rights of reproduction in any form reserved 39 ISSN: 1744-2117/doi:10.1016/S1744-2117(05)03002-1
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JANICE A. BLACK AND GERARD FARIAS
1 ENTREPRENEURIAL VOLITION TO TAKE ACTION AND THE 1990S 3 The difficulty in predicting the behavior of markets and the fact that mar5 kets have many independent actors attempting to organize themselves af- firms the assertion that markets are complex systems (Anderson, 1999) and 7 are indeed getting more complex (D'Aveni, 1994; Black & Farias, 2000). Entrepreneurs have been credited with contributing to the complexity of 9 these markets because of the choices they make (Black & Fabian, 2000; Black & Farias, 2000). As argued by Black and Farias (2000), new markets 11 tend to be equivocal or ambiguous because there is little information about that market place. By operating in that market place, information is re13 vealed leading to less ambiguous or equivocal environments. As actors in such markets earn economic rents for their efforts, other actors are attracted 15 to that market place, which is now less ambiguous because latent informa- tion has been revealed. Entrepreneurs now have to deal more with problems 17 of uncertainty and less with ambiguity. (Our definitions of equivocality and uncertainty are based an Daft & L'Engle, 1984). However, a market place 19 that continues to reward entrepreneurs with rents will continue to attract new actors, which will eventually lead to information overloads for both 21 incumbents and new entrants. This information overload will tend to rec- reate conditions of ambiguity, now simultaneously with uncertainty. Note 23 that the choices entrepreneurs make in the shifting information environment that they operate in implies that understanding the entrepreneurial volition 25 in taking action in those conditions is increasingly important for today's managers. Such volition to take a particular type of action is called entre27 preneurial conation. This chapter presents a model of entrepreneurial action taking, some influences on the market, and then examines entrepreneurial 29 action choices during the time of the Dot.Com phenomena in the 1990s. 31
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ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTION TAKING
35 The turbulent markets of the past decade (D'Aveni, 1994; Black & Farias, 2000) have highlighted the importance of organizations being able to take 37 action in the presence of both, uncertainty and ambiguity. As noted earlier this uncertainty and ambiguity is generated in part by the actions of the 39 entrepreneurs themselves. The ambiguity in particular suggests that outcomes cannot be predicted with confidence and surprises (Casti, 1994) may
Entrepreneurial Volition to Take Action
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1 emerge and suggests the existence of dynamic complexity (Senge, 1990). Systems characterized by dynamic complexity are those where the relation- 3 ship between cause and effect is subtle and separated in time and space. Complex systems also cycle between periods of apparent chaos and periods 5 of patterned behavior (Brown & Eisenhardt, 1997, 1998; Black &Fabian, 2000). One possible source of these cycles is the decisions and actions that 7 entrepreneurs take in their attempts to achieve Competitive Advantage (Black & Farias, 2000). It is important to note that we are using entrepre- 9 neurs in the same fashion as found in the school of Austrian Economics, namely someone willing to take on the market engagement whether that is in 11 a new venture or in an existing firm (Kirzner, 1979). Market action taking by entrepreneurs has been documented by many 13 authors from the Austrian school of economics (Lachmann, 1977; Kirzner, 1978, 1979, 1982). Typical actions include market structuring actions and 15 market refining actions (Lachmann, 1977; Kirzner, 1978, 1979, 1982; Black & Farias, 2000). Market structuring activities include those activities that 17 define what it means to compete in a particular market or industry. Market refining activities result in the determination of the most effective and ef- 19 ficient ways to operate in that defined market. While for years Austrian economists emphasized the disequilibria aspects of the market cycles 21 (Kirzner, 1982) and the neo-classical economists emphasized the equilibrium aspects of the market cycles (Peteraf, 1993), complexity theorists have no 23 problem conceptualizing the appearance of both perspectives within a marketplace (Black & Farias, 2000). We present the dynamic cycling between 25 the two perspectives in Fig. 1.
27
29
Newly Defined or Redefined Market
Iterations
Patterned Market Activity Iterations
Stable Pattern: Movement towards
31 Revealed
Revealed
?
"Pure Competition"
Organizing
Market Data
Organizing
Market Data
33
Efforts: Enterprising
Stable Pattern
Efforts: Honing
Amorphous patterns emerge:
Market
Emerges
Market Structure/
35
Structure/ Structuring
Organizing Efforts: Enterprising to
Structuring Activities
?
Unstable Pattern:
Movement to
Activities
Destabilize Patterns
Hypercompetitive
State
37
No Set Market Patterns/Industry Norms
Established Industry Norms
39 Fig. 1. Including the ``EDGE OF CHAOS'' at the ?'s.
34
JANICE A. BLACK AND GERARD FARIAS
1 The box on the left-hand side of Fig. 1 represents those situations when a new market has been created or an existing market has been redefined. At 3 this stage, we will only refer to the creation of a new market to simplify the description. Assume an entrepreneur develops a new product or service. At 5 this time, little is known about the market and entrepreneurial action is based largely on assumptions about the potential market response. The 7 information environment in the market at this time is essentially characterized by equivocality. The market response to the product/service launch 9 reveals information about the market place. At a basic level such information might simply reveal the existence of a market for the product/service. 11 At a more detailed level, information about the potential size of the market, customer preferences and other information might be revealed. If market 13 feedback indicates the existence of a viable market, the pioneering entrepreneur begins to structure the market based on the feedback. However, the 15 information revealed by the feedback is available (at least in part) to other entrepreneurs as well, who may now enter the market. The pioneering en- 17 trepreneur operates in an ambiguity reducing or problem defining mode. The second and other late movers have the problem defined for them and 19 operate in an uncertainty reducing or problem solving mode. With time, incumbents and potential entrants learn more about the market and con- 21 tinue to refine their definitions and solutions. A market structure emerges. The market moves towards the emergence of stable patterns and a state of 23 equilibrium. In this state of patterned activity (second box of Fig. 1), those entrepre- 25 neurs who are more inclined towards a problem solving orientation will attempt to further refine that market by developing greater efficiencies. They 27 will attempt to reduce costs and improve quality by honing their skills and capabilities. On the other hand, those entrepreneurs with a problem defining 29 orientation are attempting to redefine and destabilize the market to their advantage. The results of this tension could cause the market to move either 31 towards equilibrium or pure competition, or towards hypercompetition. The information environment in the hypercompetitive state is again character- 33 ized by ambiguity or equivocality. Austrian economic scholars have emphasized the point that information 35 is not equally dispersed in a market, that entrepreneurs have to perceive it and then take action based upon that perception (Lachmann, 1977; Kirzner, 37 1982). In addition to perceiving and taking action, entrepreneurs are not infallible and often will make mistakes or choices that others do not rein- 39 force (Kirzner, 1978, 1979). Thus, after the entrepreneur has acted, his or her actions indicate to others the reasoning and potential pattern behind the
Entrepreneurial Volition to Take Action
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1 entrepreneur's actions. When such actions are taking place in an environment that has no previous market or industry established norms, ambiguity 3 reduction skills are needed and the entrepreneurs that do act do so because of a preference for taking action in the face of ambiguity (Black & Farias, 5 2000). After enough activity has taken place, a pattern, whether real or not, will emerge in the minds of other entrepreneurs who prefer to refine market 7 norms rather than set them (Black & Farias, 2000). The will or volition to take action is called conation (Berry, 1996) and the 9 entrepreneurial action taking preferences is called Entrepreneurial Conation (Black, 1998; Black & Fabian, 2000). Entrepreneurial conation has two 11 ``problem'' preferences (Black, 1998). One preference is for ambiguity reduction or problem defining and the second preference is for uncertainty 13 reduction or problem solving (Black, 1998; Black & Fabian, 2000). The dominant conation preference is matched to the marketplace phase (Black & 15 Farias, 2000). Entrepreneurs who prefer to make sense of their environment and to 17 define the market ``problem'' are said to have a dominant entrepreneurial conation of ``Enterprising'' (Black & Fabian, 2000). Entrepreneurs who 19 prefer to refine what it means to compete in a market are said to have a dominant entrepreneurial conation of ``Honing'' (Black & Fabian, 2000). 21 Certainly, during times of market emergence or during times of hypercompetition, the Enterprising entrepreneur has an edge over the Honing entre- 23 preneur. However, during times of regular and routine changes in an existing market, the Honing entrepreneur will have the competitive advan- 25 tage over the Enterprising entrepreneur. Furthermore, each entrepreneur will tend to hire and retain others with a similar action taking preference 27 (Black & Fabian, 2000). 29 THE CASE OF THE START-UPS OF THE 1990S 31 To begin to assess this theoretical understanding of the effect of entrepre- 33 neurial volition to take action, we utilize an exploratory case study. While a case study will not be generalizable to all situations, it is sufficient if one is 35 interested if something can occur. To choose a specific case study, we looked QA :1 for conditions where either or both of the orientations could logically occur. 37 We found such a condition during the 1990s. The increases in information technology both in analysis of information and in dissemination of infor- 39 mation made for a market place that had evidence of both entrepreneurial conation orientations. Many of the new business start-ups acted as if the
36
JANICE A. BLACK AND GERARD FARIAS
1 Internet was a completely new market endeavor where the old rules did not apply. If that is the case, we would expect to see a large number of En- 3 terprising-oriented entrepreneurs. However, many of the companies present on the Internet were variations on existing firms, hence the term ``Click and 5 Brick''. Given that orientation, we would expect to see a large number of Honing-oriented entrepreneurs. 7 H1. Enterprising actions will dominate the reported actions of new busi9 nesses. H2. Honing actions will dominate the reported actions of new businesses. 11 H3. Neither Enterprising actions nor Honing actions will dominate the 13 reported actions of new businesses. As an exploratory effort, we examined the entrepreneurial efforts recorded 15 by a major journalistic effort, those new start-ups captured in business publications. Thus, to begin to examine these hypotheses, we examined a 17 dozen articles from United States' nationally distributed business magazines that emphasized entrepreneurs and business start-ups. Specifically, we 19 looked at articles about start-up firms in INC, Entrepreneur, and Forbes (see Table 1). Because we were interested in firms which had begun during 21 the 1990s, we chose to examine articles from 1997 and 1998. Companies had to be no older than 5 years to be included in the article set being examined. 23 Thus, the companies being examined would be from 1992 or 1993 through 1998. They would have begun at the earliest during the initial portions of the 25 Information Age or when the age was under full swing. If we found any interesting patterns or support for our hypotheses, a more complete project 27 could then be undertaken. To examine the hypotheses, a group of research assistants were training in 29 a set of key words which were used to identify the level of either enterprising or honing activities reported. A set of articles from 1997 and 1998 were 31 identified and given to at least two of the research assistants to evaluate. If there was an agreement (which occurred in over 90% of the cases), the 33 assessment was included; if there was a disagreement, the article was as- sessed independently by an additional research assistant and the majority 35 assessment was recorded. As part of the coding process, the research as- sistants included the particular phrasing in an article that he or she believed 37 supported the coded assessment. All such support was scrutinized a final time by the lead researcher for consistency of use and logical support. Again 39 if there was a problem, the article was given to another researcher and reanalyzed until the support was shown for the coding (very few had to be
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39
Entrepreneurial Volition to Take Action
Table 1. Summary Table of Initial Evaluation of Start-ups via Published. Articles.
Magazine
Date
Article
Co Name Industry
Enterprising
Honing
1
INC
4/97
It's a Dog's Life: Three
Three Dog Bakery
Low
High
Dog Bakery on Handling Dog treat Industry
and Managing Rapid
Growth
2
INC
4/97
Dear Max: Drop Dead.
GoCard Postcard
Mod
High
Love, GoCard
Advertising
Advertising Industry
3
INC
7/97
Have Cookies, Will Travel: Five Star Cookie Co. Inc. Mod
High
A Start Up That Delivers Baked Goods Industry
4
INC
9/97
Hola, Chica: D. C. Mag Latina Style
Mod
High
Targets Latinas
Print Publishing Industry
5
INC
11/97
Needle Doctor Plays On Needle Doctor
Mod
High
Phonograph Industry
6
INC
11/97
Born to Be Wild
Excelsior-Henderson
Mod
High
Motorcycle Industry
7
INC
12/97
Interest in Sunburn
SolarTech
High
High
Solution Heats Up
Retail UVA/UVB
Measurement Device
Industry
8
INC
3/98
Electric Bikes Plug In
Zap Power Systems
Mod
High
Electric Bikes/Scooters
Industry
9
Forbes
10/97
Spaghetti deluxe
The Pasta Shoppe Inc.
Low
High
Dry Pasta Industry
10
Forbes
3/98
E-muscle
FreeMarkets Online Inc. Mod
High
Online Auction Industry
11
Forbes
4/98
Pay Dirt
Brookhill Group
Mod
High
37
38 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39
Table 1. (Continued )
Magazine
Date
Article
Co Name Industry
Enterprising
Honing
Environmental Clean-up
Industry
12
Entrepreneur 4/97
Nebraska: Golight Inc.
Golight Inc.
Mod
High
Flashlight Industry
JANICE A. BLACK AND GERARD FARIAS
Entrepreneurial Volition to Take Action
39
1 handled in this fashion and of those that did most were recoded in the same
way independently). The magazine examined, date of article, article title,
3 and coding appear in Table 1.
While this work is just exploratory, some interesting results are appearing.
5 For example, there is great variation on the Enterprising dimension and no
variation on the Honing dimension. While we could claim that Hypothesis 2
7 was supported and Hypotheses 1 and 3 were not, this seems a bit extreme for
the amount of articles that we examined. However, given that all articles had
9 high Honing and all articles were from national United States magazines,
there may be additional biases due to the type of media or country location.
11 How interesting is it to report in national media that a local business
entrepreneur has opened a new Burger King franchise (low honing/low en-
13 terprising) or that a local hospital has opened a new cancer treatment center
in response to a group of physicians opening one (moderate honing/low
15 enterprising). To examine this potential bias, we turned to local newspapers
of small to mid-sized cities located in the southwestern part of the United
17 States. We again only examined a dozen articles covering the time period of
1997 through 1998. However, there is a distinct difference in the coverage.
19 Both the Enterprising and the Honing evaluations had variation. There was
one high Enterprising and three high Honing responses (Table 2).
QA :2
21 We next examine the placement of the two sets of data on the Entrepre-
neurial Conation Grid. The Grid is simply (see Table 3) the graphical rep-
23 resentation of the data covered earlier. We see the national magazine articles
clustering in the high Honing and Moderate Enterprising cell (75%), where
25 the local newspapers have a widely dispersed pattern.
Neither reporting mediums had very many articles on organizations that
27 could be classified in the high Enterprising cells (total of 8% across the
media). The moderate Honing level appeared to have the highest number of
29 organizations (59%), while the mid-level set of placements was in the low
Enterprising area (33%). The local media sources provided a slightly higher
31 number of organizations classifiable as Low (50%) versus moderate Enter-
prising (42%).
33 Remember that the high Honing cells had 100% of the organizations
detailed by the national media. The local media described 25% of the or-
35 ganizations as fitting into the high Honing level; 33% of the organizations
were placed into moderate Honing areas and 42% were classified as being
37 low Honing.
Hypothesis 2 was best supported at the national level, while Hypothesis 3
39 appeared to have some support at the local level. While, there is not suf-
ficient information to make conclusive statements, there were surprising
40 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39
Table 2. Summary Table of Initial Evaluation of Start-ups via Published. Articles..
Newspaper Date
Article
Co Name
Enterprising Honing
JANICE A. BLACK AND GERARD FARIAS
1
Local
1/97
Signs, Flags and Kites ­ all Signergy Productions
Mod
High
in one store
Printing Signs & Wind
Born Products Industries
2
Local
3/98
Spirit Winds: Breath of
Spirit Winds
Low
Mod
Fresh Air
Retail food: Coffee Bar/
Restaurant/Gift Shop
3
Local
3/98
Chile rancher makes
New Mexico Chile Ranch Mod
High
multipurpose products Condiment Industry
4
Local
4/98
Oriental King changes
Oriental King
Low
Low
hands
Retail food: Restaurant
5
Local
5/98
It's always coffee time at Nabes
Low
Low
Nabes
Retail food: Coffee Bar/
Restaurant/Newstand
6
Local #2
8/97
City Company re-refines Safety-Kleen
High
Mod
used oil
Environmental Clean-up/
Recycling Industry
7
Local #2
10/97
Ripening business
Casa Rondena
Mod
Low
Winery Industry
8
Local #2
12/97
Let Them Do the Driving Santa Fe Ski Shuttle
Mod
Mod
Transportation: Taxi/Bus
Service Industry
9
Local #2
12/97
Weekly Alibi turns five
Weekly Alibi
Low
Low
Print Publication Industry
10
Local #2
12/97
Toy store owner makes it Pick Up Your Toys
Low
High
fun
Retail Store: Toy Industry
11
Local #2
1/98
Importer helped put
Maya Jones Imports
Mod
Low
Madrid back on the map Retail Store: Gifts/
Clothing
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39
Entrepreneurial Volition to Take Action
Table 2. (Continued )
Newspaper Date
Article
Co Name
Enterprising Honing
12
Local # 2
12/98
Flamdoodle Draws
Flamdoodle Amimation Low
Mod
Attention
Entertainment Production
Industry
41
42
JANICE A. BLACK AND GERARD FARIAS
1
Table 3. Entrepreneurial Conation Grid.
3 N ј national articles L ј local articles
5 Honing 7 9
High Moderate Low
Low N,N L L,L L,L,L
Enterprising Moderate N,N,N,N,N,N,N,N,N L,L L L,L
High N L
11 differences between the local and national reportings of entrepreneurial ac- 13 tion taking choices. 15
17
DISCUSSION
19 While earlier we noted that it might be tempting to say that a honing orientation was the dominant orientation, given the preponderance of high 21 honing placements of the organizations reported on by the national magazines, it is evident that such a conclusion would be premature on more than 23 one front: (1) we had a very small Sample size from a very limited set of magazines that may be biased, (2) it is the combined placement of both the 25 elements that can reveal a richer understanding of organizational start-ups, (3) many of the articles reported on companies that were close to the 5-year 27 mark which means that they were formed at the very beginning of the rapid increase in use of computers and information technology and (4) the spe- 29 cifics on age of market, and amount of information in the market was not taken into account for the variety of industries involved. 31 The national media was dominated by reports of firms that tweaked the rules of competition and which paid high levels of attention to their stake- 33 holders. The local media was more evenly divided between those who accepted the competition rules and those who tweaked them. However, local 35 media also reported on organizations that were less likely to be highly involved with their customers and more likely to have an internal definition of 37 what it meant to be in business or one that utilized competitors (often those from out of the area) to help in defining the problem solving methods. 39 Furthermore, very few of these business start-ups were high technology based (12.5%). This may be due to their being started before the wide spread
Entrepreneurial Volition to Take Action
43
1 influence of the information age. However, if this low number continues in later issues of the national magazines and local papers, we would conclude 3 that to examine the high technology and information technology start-ups and their placements we need to examine more specialized data sources. 5 Given the small sample sizes (typical in a case study), the results could also have be skewed by the requirements of the particular industries. These 7 results may only be an artifact of the particular set of industries found in this set of articles. This issue too is one that can be resolved by an expanded 9 research effort. 11 CONCLUSION 13 We began this exploratory work by noting that entrepreneurs are both the 15 coordinating pattern setting actors of the market and the disruptive pattern breakers of the market. We suggested that there may be times when one or 17 the other of the Entrepreneurial Conation preferences may dominate the market places. In this exploratory work, using articles about start-up com- 19 panies, we found mixed results. National media reported the most on firms who engaged in high honing activities. Local media tended to report least 21 frequently on this type of firm and to instead report on those with low to moderate levels of honing and enterprising. 23 Given the different patterns of reporting, we concluded that the data source may bias the analysis when we use popular press media. The fact that 25 most firms had been in business for several years may also have biased our results in finding one orientation more dominant as may the fact that firms 27 came from a wide range of industries. To better examine this model and its hypotheses requires the following changes. (1) Articles need to be drawn 29 from a large number of local newspapers from cities across the United States. (2) To better reflect the time period of emergence of the high tech 31 industry, such articles should come from the years 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. (3) If using national magazines, a wide variety of magazines, 33 including those specifically oriented to online organizations, also needs to be included across the years of 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. 35 Entrepreneurs are major actors in our markets. Understanding when specific entrepreneurial action preferences may be required will help us in 37 giving advise to nascent entrepreneurs, economic development agencies, and in providing business education. This work, while preliminary, indicates that 39 examining the entrepreneurial orientations may clarify our understanding of needed competences for various markets and market stages.
44
JANICE A. BLACK AND GERARD FARIAS
1
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QA :3
AUTHOR QUERY FORM ELSEVIER Research in CompetenceBased Management
JOURNAL TITLE: RCBMV3
ARTICLE NO:
3002
Queries and / or remarks
Query No AQ1` AQ2 AQ3
Details required Please check the sentence "While a case study........something can occur." for clarity Please confirm the placement of Table 2 Please provide the page range of Lachmann, L.M. (1977)
Author's response See line ## below ok pp 45-64., (I cannot insert text into y
##

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