Exploring the behavioural patterns of entrepreneurial learning

Thomas Wing Yan Man (Department of Mathematics, Science, Social Sciences and Technology, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong, China)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Publication date: 1 June 2006



The purpose of this study is to empirically explore the behavioural patterns involved in entrepreneurial learning through a conceptualization of entrepreneurial learning as a “competency”.


Semi‐structured interviews to 12 entrepreneurs were conducted with a focus on the critical incidents in which significant learning has occurred prior to and during the development of their businesses, based on a competency framework of entrepreneurial learning. The learning behaviours in which these entrepreneurs exhibited during the incidents were coded.


The findings suggested that there are six behavioural patterns of entrepreneurial learning, including: actively seeking learning opportunities; learning selectively and purposely; learning in depth; learning continuously; improving and reflecting upon experience; and successfully transferring prior experience into current practices.

Research limitations/implications

Entrepreneurial learning is more than acquiring experience, skills and knowledge or possessing attributes related to learning. Rather, a competent entrepreneur needs to demonstrate a set of behavioural patterns of effective learning. Moreover, these behavioural patterns are identifiable for the purpose of measurement.

Practical implications

The education and training for the entrepreneur can be considered from a behavioural perspective, with an emphasis on behavioural modification of the entrepreneur's learning patterns rather than skill or knowledge acquisition only. Also, this should be grounded upon the provision of appropriate contexts that provide or simulate the experiences of which the entrepreneur will likely come across, so that the learning behaviours can be stimulated.


Studying entrepreneurial learning under a competency framework allows us to explore the behavioural patterns and other factors involved in effective entrepreneurial learning with a closer connection to entrepreneurial success.



Wing Yan Man, T. (2006), "Exploring the behavioural patterns of entrepreneurial learning", Education + Training, Vol. 48 No. 5, pp. 309-321. https://doi.org/10.1108/00400910610677027

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