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To test these propositions, a field study using mailed
questionnaires was conducted in two phases. This
approach is useful for accessing organizational processes in the
settings where they natural-ly occur with minimal intrusiveness
by the researcher (McGrath, 1982). The study is
crosssectional and the objective was to use factor analysis
and a correlational approach to test the hypothesized
relationships. The next three subsections describe the
research instrument, the sample, and analysis used in this
A pretest of the research instrument was conducted in order to evaluate new questionnaire items developed for the research. This provided an exploratory approach to aid in operationalizing constructs that need further development, such as competitive aggres-sive-ness, for which a widely recognized set of survey items is not currently in use. After preparing written responses, pretest respondents were interviewed for feedback regarding the clarity and intent of the survey items. Results of the pretest were evaluated and implemented prior to finaliz-ing the research instrument.
The research instrument was a mail questionnaire. Some researchers have found it difficult to obtain data from small businesses (Sapienza, Smith, & Gannon, 1988). Therefore, a procedure developed by Dillman (1978) to increase response rates was followed. Dillman's approach is based on a series of specifically timed mailings including an initial mailing along with a cover letter, a postcard reminder sent out one week after the initial mailing, and, three weeks after the original mailout, a letter and replacement questionnaire was sent to all nonrespondents. In some cases, a final attempt was made seven weeks after the original mailing.
Four dimensions of EOinnovativeness, risk taking, proactiveness, and competitive aggressivenesswere measured using scales developed and tested for reliability by Khandwalla (1977), Miller (1983), Covin and Slevin (1986, 1989) and Covin and Covin (1990). These scales have been supplemented by items developed by the first author to capture aspects of the constructs that may not be included in the previously used scales. The full entrepreneurial orientation scale is included in Appendix 1. For purposes of this analysis, only the competitive aggressiveness and proactiveness scales are discussed below.
Proactiveness was measured using a two item, 7point
scale developed by Covin and Slevin (1986) that asks about the
firm's tendency to lead rather than follow in the development of
new procedures and technologies, and the introduction of new
products or services. These two items were supplemented by
a third question developed by the first author to ask about the
firm's tendency to act in anticipation of future changes and
needs. Competitive aggressiveness was measured with one
7point scale item developed by Covin and Slevin (1989)
using language originated by Khandwalla (1977). This
question asks managers if they prefer to
"undothe competitors" or to
An additional question aimed at
identifying the firm's posture relative to industry rivals
was also originated by the first author.
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