Management Entrepreneurial Firms
Kerry Hudson, Robert E. Morgan
  • LAST REVIEWED: 20 January 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 September 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0174


The field of entrepreneurship is fundamentally concerned with opportunity-seeking behavior. Entrepreneurship is a process involving the identification of business opportunities, evaluation of the payoff from such opportunities, and investment of resources in the exploration and exploitation of opportunities that have the potential to create value. This process is most often attributed to the activities of individuals or small teams forming new business ventures, with established firms more often associated with the advantage-seeking approach emphasized in strategic management. However, the entrepreneurial process may occur within new, small, or large firms. The study of entrepreneurial firms thus includes three domains. First, independent entrepreneurship, considering the formation and early growth of new business ventures. Second, corporate venturing, where established firms internally develop new business ventures and/or provide resources and support to independent entrepreneurs. Third, strategic entrepreneurship, concerning the integration of entrepreneurial opportunity-seeking and strategic advantage-seeking approaches in the formulation and implementation of business strategy. A fourth domain also considers the context in which entrepreneurial firms operate, examining the environmental conditions that facilitate or inhibit opportunity-seeking behavior and the impact of entrepreneurial firms on economic development. This article aims to synthesize the current body of literature on entrepreneurial firms with reference to these three organizational contexts and the environmental contingencies of entrepreneurial firms. General resources are presented first, including textbooks most suitable for introductory reading or undergraduate study and the leading journals publishing peer-reviewed original research. Key topics in each research domain are then discussed, with notable empirical studies and review articles provided for further reading. Future research streams are also suggested.


Many textbooks and popular books on entrepreneurship adopt a prescriptive, applied focus, targeted at managerial audiences or general readers with an interest in starting their own business. The range of introductory resources discussing theory or research methodologies is more limited; however, the publications in this section provide overviews suitable for researchers, students, and practitioners. Westhead and Wright 2013 is suggested for a concise introduction to the field. Burns 2012 and Burns 2016 are particularly useful for undergraduates or those seeking a practical focus, such as MBA students or managers. More advanced texts include Blundel, et al. 2018, which covers theoretical issues in greater detail, and Hitt, et al. 2002 and Wickman 2006, focusing specifically on the topic of strategic entrepreneurship. For recent developments in strategic entrepreneurship research, the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal (see Journals) is recommended as the primary resource for researchers, while Mosey, et al. 2016 provides a practitioner-oriented overview of this research stream.

  • Blundel, Richard, Nigel Lockett, and Catherine Wang. Exploring Entrepreneurship: Practices and Perspectives. 2d ed. London: SAGE, 2018.

    Designed for postgraduate and advanced undergraduate study, providing greater coverage of empirical research and theoretical debates than other textbooks. The 2018 edition discusses “varieties” of entrepreneurial firms with a greater focus on firm-level theories and application.

  • Burns, Paul. Corporate Entrepreneurship: Innovation and Strategy in Large Organizations. 3d ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2012.

    A useful complement to Burns 2016 that focuses on the process of entrepreneurial transformation in large organizations, presented from a similar life-cycle perspective and encompassing both new venture creation and strategic entrepreneurship.

  • Burns, Paul. Entrepreneurship and Small Business: Start-up, Growth and Maturity. 4th ed. New York: Red Globe Press, 2016.

    Focusing on core concepts and the entrepreneurial process in new and small firms, this is an accessible textbook for undergraduates or readers seeking practical application of entrepreneurship theory, such as MBA students.

  • Hitt, Michael A., R. Duane Ireland, S. Michael Camp, and Donald L. Sexton. Strategic Entrepreneurship: Creating a New Mindset. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002.

    Published in collaboration with the Strategic Management Society, this introduces the concept of strategic entrepreneurship as a synthesis of the research domains of entrepreneurship and strategic management. Contributions from scholars in both fields serve to integrate insights in six key areas: resources and learning, innovation, alliances and networks, internationalization, leadership, and growth.

  • Mosey, Simon, Hannah Noke, and Paul Kirkham. Building an Entrepreneurial Organization. Routledge Masters in Entrepreneurship. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2016.

    Part of the Routledge Masters in Entrepreneurship series, this book is specifically designed for executive education. The authors present strategic entrepreneurship concepts in a practical format, including diagnostic tools for small and large organizations.

  • Westhead, Paul, and Mike Wright. Entrepreneurship: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

    An accessible introduction to the field that discusses the entrepreneurial process, the types of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial firms, and the antecedents and outcomes of entrepreneurship. Useful for examining and contextualizing theoretical debates, as well as practical application of entrepreneurship research.

  • Wickman, Philip A. Strategic Entrepreneurship. London: Pearson, 2006.

    An introduction to strategic entrepreneurship designed for students and educators, covering theoretical and practical considerations at the individual and firm levels. Concludes with a brief account of emerging research trends and methodological paradigms in the field.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.