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INTRODUCTION

Entrepreneurship writers in both the popular press and the scholarly literature have generally extolled the importance of entrepreneurial activities and often implicitly assumed a positive relationship between entrepreneurship and performance outcomes.  Articles in business periodicals such as Forbes with titles such as “Innovate or Die” (Young, 1994) and “Hooray for Risk” (Postrel, 1995) are indicative of this trend.  In addition to the inherent “goodness” ascribed to entrepreneurial activity, the academic literature has often conceptualized and operationalized the entrepreneurial process as a unidimensional construct (e.g., Covin & Slevin, 1989).  In contrast, we suggest that entrepreneurial processes involve complex phenomena that may not always be associated with strong performance.

To explain these phenomena, we have suggested that the concept of an entrepreneurial orientation (EO) is potentially important to entrepreneurship research.  This paper builds on our previous work on the concept of entrepreneurial orientation.  We believe that theoretical development and empirical research directed at this construct is important for the enhancement of both normative and descriptive theory.  Our earlier theoretical work proposed a contingency framework for exploring the relationship between EO  and organizational performance and suggested the usefulness of  considering  EO as a multidimensional  construct  (Lumpkin & Dess, 1996).   Our  recent  empirical  research  found  that configurational approaches that are consistent

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1 This research was supported by the Center for Entrepreneurial leadership, Inc. At the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation  with normative theory linking EO, strategy, environment, and performance have a greater a greater predictive power than contingency approaches (Dess, Lumpkin, & Covin, in press).

The present study proposes and explores the independence of two dimensions of EO C proactiveness and competitive aggressiveness.  In addition, we suggest that proactiveness and competitive aggressiveness tend to vary independently and have unique relationships with the performance construct.  The rest of the paper is divided into four major sections.  The next section, drawing on prior research and theory, advances hypotheses suggesting the independence of these two EO dimensions and performance relationships.  Then, the field research methodology, instrumentation, and analysis is discussed.  The final two sections present the findings and discuss the implications of our research for further inquiry.

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