Abstract

In this paper we examine how interventions aimed at developing the strategic function of the board influence entrepreneurial learning and behavior in small growth-oriented firms. The entrepreneurship literature has delved into the strategic prioritization of small firms, indicating that their governance structures often overlook the potential benefits of professionalizing the board (Bennett & Robson, 2000; Gabrielsson, 2007). Empirical studies suggest that active boards may provide a range of strategic benefits for small firms, such as discovering and exploiting new market opportunities (Borch, Huse, & Senneseth, 1999; Gabrielsson & Huse, 2010), and building organizational processes that support innovation and growth (Brunninge, Nordqvist, & Wiklund, 2007; Zahra, Neubaum, & Huse, 2000). However, the typical situation is that founders and family members, or at best close business associates, compose these boards (Fiegener et al., 2000; Gabrielsson, 2007). Both policymakers and professional associations encourage and support educational interventions that target growth-oriented firms. Today there exist a range of private and semi-private intermediary organizations, such as incubators and consulting firms, that organize and offer interventions for various purposes. However, there is up to date limited scholarly attention that examine the overall effectiveness of such interventions, and the extent to which they have any impact on entrepreneurial learning and venture development. As such, the role and potential impact of intermediary-managed interventions for professionalizing the board function in small growth-oriented firms is currently under-acknowledged and under-researched in literature and research on entrepreneurship.

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