Abstract

Overcoming problems, referring to complex situations that stand as barriers to an intended goal state (Hsieh et al. 2007, Simon 1991, Dörner 1976), is essential to entrepreneurial success and growth. Problems are present throughout the entire entrepreneurial process, and can for example involve the experience of critical events, environmental changes, failures and errors, or appear in the general process of opportunity exploration and exploitation. Entrepreneurs’ mental models influence how they understand the problem and the efforts taken to solve them, but also the type of learning it may lead to (Wang & Chugh, 2014) to be used and applied in future endeavors (Byrne & Shepherd 2015). Whereas some entrepreneurs engage in problemsolving as a forward-looking search process, others focus on problem-solving as a trial and error activity to overcome errors and failures (Yacob, 2015, Hsieh et al, 2007; Guo and Zhaou, 2010). There is, however, scarce understanding about mechanisms that influence the perceptions of problems in the entrepreneurial process, and the potential differences and similarities regarding problem identification and problem-solving approaches between entrepreneurs in the start-up and growth phases. This is a shortcoming since the framing of problem and efforts to solve them in the start-up phase may influence problem-solving approaches used in later phases. This study investigates how the framing of problems occurs in entrepreneurial teams and how this framing and re-framing of problems influence subsequent problemsolving efforts.

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