In observing recent theoretical developments in the field, it is apparent that two distinctive and yet relatively separate areas of study have emerged—entrepreneurial cognition and entrepreneurial learning. Scholars have begun to appreciate how the transformation of experience, through a learning process, creates valuable entrepreneurial knowledge that impacts on venture performance (Politis, 2005). Corbett (2005) emphasises that cognition is the utilisation and application of knowledge, and learning a social process by which knowledge is created. Corbett provides a convincing argument that the “cognitive mechanisms” through which we acquire, store, transform, and use information are the product of an individual learning process. Whilst Corbett (2005) acknowledges that entrepreneurial learning is a social process, we maintain that his theorising remains under-socialised. Our objective therefore is to connect cognitive mechanisms more robustly to socialised notions of entrepreneurial learning.

This conceptual paper locates itself within a wider movement towards the social in entrepreneurship (Downing 2005; Goss, 2005), in which entrepreneurs are embedded in networks of social relations (Aldrich and Cliff, 2003; Jack and Anderson, 2002). This socialisation of entrepreneurship theorising has also impacted on entrepreneurial learning, which is increasingly being articulated as a negotiated and socially constructed process (Rae, 2004).