How entrepreneurs acquire the capacity to excel: insights from research on expert performance

Most new ventures fail, but a few prosper and attain rapid growth. Many factors contribute to such outcomes, but we propose that among these are mechanisms identified by cognitive science research on the origins of expert performance. Literature on this topic indicates that across many fields (e.g., medicine, science, sports, music), outstanding performance derives largely from participation in intense, prolonged, and highly focused efforts to improve current performance—a process known as deliberate practice. By comparison, mere experience in a field and individual talent play smaller roles in generating expert performance. Additional evidence indicates that participation in deliberate practice does not simply expand domain-specific knowledge and skills; it also generates actual enhancements to basic cognitive resources (e.g., memory, perception, metacognition). We suggest that to the extent entrepreneurs acquire enhanced cognitive resources through current or past deliberate practice, their capacity to perform tasks related to new venture success (e.g., accurate identification and evaluation of business opportunities) is enhanced and, hence, the performance of their new ventures, too, is augmented. Specific ways in which entrepreneurs can gain enhanced cognitive resources are described, and implications for entrepreneurship theory and practice are considered. Copyright © 2010 Strategic Management Society.

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Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal
Baron Robert A
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