The Learning of Nascent Entrepreneurs from a Business Plan Competition

Watson, Kayleigh (2016) The Learning of Nascent Entrepreneurs from a Business Plan Competition. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

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Abstract

This doctoral research explored extracurricular university-based Business Plan Competition (BPC) participation as an entrepreneurial learning experience for the nascent entrepreneur. Entrepreneurial learning is vital to nascent entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurial process. As a mode of entrepreneurship education, the BPC has been widely proffered as a mechanism for the supply of entrepreneurial learning, primarily on account of its affordance of experience and necessary knowledge, skill and mind-set development. An enduring presence of BPCs on university campuses globally reflects such an entrepreneurial learning rhetoric. However, despite the ready espousal of the BPC as a relevant and valuable learning experience it can be observed that there is a lack of evidence to substantiate such a view, particularly from the perspective of the nascent entrepreneur participants and their experiences of participation but also in light of sustained scepticism toward the business plan within entrepreneurship contexts.
Underpinned by a constructivist paradigm, the study responded to the aforementioned research problem through a Longitudinal Qualitative Research design. In-depth interviews were carried out with the same sample of nascent entrepreneur participants at the start, end and six months after their participation in a UK-based extracurricular BPC. The narratives of participation generated were thematically analysed at the end of each wave of data collection and then longitudinally at the conclusion of the nine month data collection period. This enabled the identification of ‘know-why’, ‘know-what & how’ and ‘know-who’ as conceptual themes. These themes signified change identified in the participant with regards to whether BPC participation was viewed and realised as an entrepreneurial learning experience.
The research found that entrepreneurial learning featured strongly within the participant’s initial rationale for competition participation. However, there was generally limited application of the competition experience and learning afforded within continued venture implementation. This was indicative of a narrowing relevance of the BPC as an entrepreneurial learning experience, and the knowledge, skills and attitudes afforded, as the nascent entrepreneur moved from a business plan-led to effectual approach to entrepreneurial new venturing. The implication is that the espoused role, scope and usefulness of the BPC as an entrepreneurial learning experience is undermined and therefore in need of a rethink. Through presenting a new understanding of the BPC as an entrepreneurial learning experience from the perspective of the nascent entrepreneur participant, this study makes a timely and original contribution to the theory and practice of BPC provision and methods for exploration of impact.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Business and Management > Business and Management
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism
Collections > Theses
Depositing User: Barry Hall
Date Deposited: 02 May 2017 08:57
Last Modified: 02 May 2017 09:01
URI: http://sure.sunderland.ac.uk/id/eprint/7195

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