The Influence of the Work Environment on Entrepreneurial Learning of Small-Business Owners

T. Lans, H.J.A. Biemans, J.A.A.M. Verstegen, M. Mulder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the widely acknowledged importance of entrepreneurial learning, research specifically addressing the question of what fosters this process is still in poor supply. In the present study, entrepreneurial learning was conceptualised as a distinct type of workplace learning, emphasising the role of the work environment in performing entrepreneurial tasks by owner/managers. A qualitative study was conducted among a specific sample of 25 small-business owners in an innovative, successful sector in the Netherlands: greenhouse horticulture. In-depth semi-structured interviews were held focussing on critical incidents as they arose around a pursued business opportunity. Four factors were identified as being crucial in the entrepreneurial learning process, namely: support and guidance, external interaction, internal communication, and task characteristics. Furthermore, the results showed that different types of business opportunities presented different dynamics for entrepreneurial learning. Finally, the results suggested a two-layered interaction between learner and work environment. Entrepreneurial learning is influenced by the work environment, which is in turn shaped and defined by the entrepreneur
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-613
JournalManagement Learning
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • opportunity identification
  • performance
  • knowledge
  • firms


Dive into the research topics of 'The Influence of the Work Environment on Entrepreneurial Learning of Small-Business Owners'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this