Understanding enterprise

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 13 June 2008


Jones, O. (2008), "Understanding enterprise", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 14 No. 4. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijebr.2008.16014daa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Understanding enterprise

Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, Volume 14, Issue 4.

In this issue we have one paper which examines the way in which information technology is used by the owners of small rural hospitality businesses. The second paper examines the increasingly important issue of how university incubators help promote the success of new businesses. In the third paper, the authors offer a critique of rationalism in studies of entrepreneurship. Instead, it is suggested that the concept of bounded emotionality can help provide a better understanding of entrepreneurial behaviour.

Irvine and Anderson explore the role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in small rural hospitality businesses. With a sample frame drawn from hospitality businesses in Grampian, Scotland the context is shaped by tensions within the physical and social constraints of rurality. Their research is focused in unveiling the role and impact of ICTs in reducing the physical, social and cultural “distance” that characterises the “rural”. As they intend to explore how the rural is used in marketing, the focus of this paper is on the practical issues of ICTs. In particular, they examine how ICTs are employed in improving the running of small rural hospitality businesses and in the commodification of the countryside. Thus, the conceptual contribution of this paper lies in the exploration of how ICTs influence space and distance. The authors provide an overview of the implementation of ICT in small hospitality businesses and its contribution in enhancing relational personal services. Results reveal that the majority of respondents used ICT to improve the effectiveness of their operation across a very wide range of functions. There is a focus on the “demand” use of ICT and there is also evidence of owner-managers recognising the importance of ICT as a marketing tool. However, there is no identification of real progress towards these businesses using ICTs for supply activities apart from the sourcing and purchase of capital items. It is evident however that rather than being seen as hindering or impersonalising personal service, ICTs are used effectively to enhance personal service and enabled the proprietors to overcome some of the disadvantages of distance.

As the focus on the role of incubator units as an effective mechanism for supporting the growth and development of small entrepreneurial firms is increasing, McAdam and Marlow investigate the manner in which firm proximity within a university incubator enhances the development of networks. Utilising empirical evidence from six case studies of entrepreneurial firms the authors examine the degree to which networking opportunities provided by the university incubator support small firms in their pursuit of sustainability and growth. Data from the incubator highlights the University’s role in facilitating networking activities and in particular, the development of social and business contacts; hence linking the concept of entrepreneurial networking with firm proximity and exploring how these two issues can be mutually advantageous to new entrepreneurial firms. Nonetheless, this paper reveals some disadvantages of university incubator placement and more specifically, how proximity between firms is seen as a threat to intellectual property rights and also the complexity and tensions of relationships between academic and business communities. Further research issues have also been identified including the relationship between proximity and tacit knowledge in establishing trust and the role of policies and practices in the management of incubators.

Jayasinghe, Thomas and Wickramasinghe examine entrepreneurial behaviour and practice by employing the concept of “bounded emotionality” which is borrowed from studies related to emotionality. The authors support critical debates in entrepreneurial research which advocate the need for alternative, more socialised approaches that account for relationships between social structure and individual entrepreneurial action. The authors argue that entrepreneurship research has been characterised by an over-obsession with logical rationalism, methodological functionalism, and a neglect of underlying political, social and cultural factors. Thus, they state that the gulf between orthodox impositions on entrepreneurial research and the social realities of entrepreneurship can be met by linking bounded emotionality with the views of the entrepreneur as socially situated agent. Furthermore they recommend the adoption of an alternative methodological framework, a more socialised approach to the study of entrepreneurship that supplements structuration theory with the distinctive features of the bounded emotionality approach that account for the relationship between public (work) and private (home) aspects in entrepreneurial actions. In this respect, the authors suggest, the conjunction of Mumby and Putnam’s (1992) concept of bounded emotionality with Giddens’ (1979; 1984) structuration theory becomes particularly relevant, with the linkage enhancing the understanding of the structure and agency duality in entrepreneurship.

Oswald Jones </>


Giddens, A. (1979), Central Problems in Social Theory: Action, Structure and Contradiction in Social Analysis, Macmillan, London

Giddens, A. (1984), The Constitution of Society, Polity Press, Cambridge

Mumby, D.K. and Putnam, L.L. (1992), “The politics of emotion: a feminist reading of bounded rationality”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 46586