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Entrepreneurial inference in the high-technology start-up: a model for optimised decision making and principled praxis

Sweeny, Paul Barry (2019) Entrepreneurial inference in the high-technology start-up: a model for optimised decision making and principled praxis. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This study investigates antecedents to inquiry and creative decision making in situations characterised by unpredictable, rapid technological change; focussing on the kind of change witnessed since the advent of massively interconnected ‘Web2.0’ technologies. How agents of business creation interact with such technologies are viewed through the lenses of traditional theory, systems theory and process theory; each of which leads to novel theoretical and practical conclusions relating to change and agency. The ‘high-tech’ entrepreneur operating in the technologically dynamic setting of the technology start-up was chosen as the agent of analysis. Grounded theory was used to effect a textual analysis of interview narratives provided by fifteen such entrepreneurial respondents, each of whom responded to three research questions relating to change, decision making and creativity. Three conceptually dominant core categories - sensemaking, structured inquiry and principled praxis - emerged as analysis of the data advanced, suggesting a three-tiered, progressive structure to the inquiry. Sensemaking centred around foundational concepts relating to the generation and early formation of enterprise building such as narrative, structure-agency, and habitus; and in so doing exhibited synergy with a number of existing sociological theories concerning group and individual action in organizational settings. Structured inquiry focussed on concepts relating to individual and group inquiry and modes of learning in high-velocity, technological settings; and Principled praxis emerged as a consolidated ‘master conceptual category’, premised upon an aggregate/idealised mode of praxis where sense had been made and inquiry was well-defined. The concept of Principled praxis therefore represented the cumulative emergent outcome of the research endeavour, from which a theoretical construct of the ideal entrepreneurial mindset could be advanced. The construct was applied towards the formulation of a set of best-practice decision-making heuristics. Informed by a critical systems approach to the analysis, elements of practical reasoning as well as ethical components guided by the philosophies of Kant and the pragmatism of Peirce contributed to the philosophical justification of the emergent theory. An adaptive form of ‘entrepreneurial inference’ for the new ‘information’ economy is hereby proposed; the aim of which is to encourage ethically sound decision making according to a critically informed set of best-practice heuristics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: entrepreneur, high-technology, start-up, decision making, systems thinking, critical systems thinking, kant, peirce,
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Management School (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Paul Barry Sweeny
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2019 15:58
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2019 15:58
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23073

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