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No entrepreneur is an island: An exploration of social entrepreneurial learning in accelerators
Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School, JIBS, Business Administration.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3095-561X
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation explores the learning of social entrepreneurs in accelerators. Building on Jarvis’ (2010) existential theory of learning, it conceptualises entrepreneurial learning as a process in which purposeful individuals encounter and transform experiences of disjuncture. These experiences are embedded in both human and material contexts. Learning processes and outcomes are portrayed as phenomena that are influenced by social entrepreneurs’ interaction with these environments. Accelerators are depicted as non-formal contexts of learning, of relatively short duration – in which the structure and content of education is progressively adapted to the requirements of the individual.

This study represents one of the first attempts to open the ‘black box’ of social entrepreneurial learning in accelerators. The process and outcomes of learning are investigated by means of a longitudinal case study involving twenty-four social entrepreneurs and three accelerators run by the same organisation. Information about learning was gathered using narrative and ethnographic techniques, and analysed drawing on an abductive methodology.

An in-depth study of the learning experiences of four social entrepreneurs is made and a typology of social entrepreneurs is developed. The typology integrates experience-oriented factors with social entrepreneurs’ degree of embeddedness in the context addressed by their product or service. These factors combine with venture stage and the intentions of the entrepreneur, to influence the learning process – and the outcomes associated with learning. Seven principal outcomes of learning in accelerators are noted and the learning of social entrepreneurs is linked to a ‘sideways’ move from a project-based charity orientation, to a more sustainable emphasis on hybridity. Furthermore, learning in accelerators is found to be more a product of co-creation than of effective programme design. The characteristics and dynamics of the accelerator cohort are found to have a significant impact on learning, with heterogeneity in terms of industry a key stimulus. In contrast, learning is enhanced when accelerator participants are at a similar stage of venture development.

This dissertation develops a model of the learning process in accelerators, emphasising the influence of entrepreneurs’ backgrounds and intentions. Ten educator roles in accelerators are identified and it is found that these functions may be filled by more than one of the three main categories of educator in accelerators (i.e.: managers, mentors and coaches). Opportunities for learning are created by the interaction of accelerator participants with both human actors and material objects. The term “splace” is used to refer to these ‘areas of opportunity’ – which allow entrepreneurs to engage in learning through reflection, dialogue, action or community – or by combinations of these four orientations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Jönköping: Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School , 2015. , 389 p.
JIBS Dissertation Series, ISSN 1403-0470 ; 105
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-26687ISBN: 978-91-86345-61-7OAI: diva2:813389
Available from: 2015-05-22 Created: 2015-05-22 Last updated: 2015-12-21Bibliographically approved

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Levinsohn, Duncan S.
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