Entrepreneurial orientation (EO) refers to specific aspects of a firm’s strategy, capturing deep-seated values, methods, and practices that guide the pursuit of new opportunities (Barringer & Bluedorn, 1999). Over the past two decades, EO has become a central construct in entrepreneurship research, with wide acceptance of its conceptual meaning and relevance for positive firm-level outcomes (Covin, Green, & Slevin, 2006). However, the fundamental assumption that firms with greater EO will show better performance has had mixed support in research to date (Wiklund & Shepherd, 2003). The confounding empirical results have provoked a series of debates, with some researchers raising questions about the role and appropriateness of EO.

In the present study, we extend the EO literature by considering organizational learning as a mediating variable between EO and firm performance. We use a panel of large firms to examine the relationship between EO, organizational learning, and performance over an extended period in a highly competitive industry. In summary, we provide a longitudinal effect of EO on performance through the mediating processes of exploratory and exploitative learning.