The evolution of entrepreneurial learning

Dermot Breslin (The Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Colin Jones (Australian Innovation Research Centre, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Publication date: 20 July 2012



The purpose of this paper is to present an evolutionary perspective on entrepreneurial learning, whilst also accounting for fundamental ecological processes, by focusing on the development of key recurring, knowledge components within nascent and growing small businesses.


The paper relates key developments within the organizational evolution literature to research on entrepreneurial learning, with arguments presented in favor of adopting a multi‐level co‐evolutionary perspective that captures and explains hidden ecological process, such as niche‐construction.


It is argued in the paper that such a multi‐level focus on key recurring knowledge components can shed new light on the process of entrepreneurial learning and lead to the cross‐fertilization of ideas across different domains of study, by offering researchers the opportunity to use the framework of variation‐selection‐retention to develop a multi‐level representation of organizational and entrepreneurial learning.


Entrepreneurial learning viewed in this way, as a multi‐level struggle for survival amongst competing knowledge components, can provide entrepreneurs with a set of evolutionary heuristics as they re‐interpret their understanding of the evolution of their business.



Breslin, D. and Jones, C. (2012), "The evolution of entrepreneurial learning", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 294-308.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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