Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research
1997 Edition


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1Shailendra Vyakarnam
2Robin C. Jacobs
3Jari Handelberg

1Nottingham Business School
Nottingham, Chaucer Street
Nottingham, UK

Livanos House, Granham's Road
Gt Shelford, Cambridge, UK

Telephone: 44-115-948-6129
Fax: 44-1223-566-659

Principal Topics

Fourteen top teams have been interviewed over the past year in a study seeking to contribute to the understanding of the team entrepreneurship process.  It seeks to explore and explain how a successful entrepreneurial team comes together and develops, especially in rapid growth businesses.


The sample reported here is not based on any particular population of team based ventures, but does focus strongly on only outstandingly successful examples of the team entrepreneurship processes.  The teams were interviewed more than once with, in some cases, the use of focus group interviews.  With the exception of the Finnish business, all other interviews were conducted by at least two of the three research team being present.  Questions were derived from literature around such issues as team entry, structure and relationships.  Interviews were taped and each researcher listened to the tapes for analytical purposes.

Major Findings

It appears from the overall study that entrepreneurial teams form, over unspecified time periods, through four main stages, each separated by invisible lines.  The first stage can be described as spontaneous team formation around a business idea or opportunity, where the entry to the team is guided by personal attraction, common interests, values and complimentary skills.

As the business grows and additional managers are recruited, there emerges a clear distinction between inner and outer teams, the former being loyal to the founders and the original vision of the business.  In the third stage, the team becomes much more strategic and formal while in the fourth, as the business matures, loyalties shift to the business (the 'flag') away from the founders.


There are two main implications.  The first is that the paper continues to search for a new theoretical explanation and definition of entrepreneurial teams, in order, partly, to question the mythology that individual entrepreneurs are responsible for rapid growth.  Second, the insights from this research may contribute to the development of practical diagnostic and consulting tool-kits to assess and coach individuals and top teams of rapid growth businesses.

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