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Sepideh Yaganegi
Sepideh Yaganegi

How can you leverage your work experiences into an entrepreneurial career?

This article explores common pathways to entrepreneurship through employment experiences. The majority of entrepreneurs work for companies prior to launching their own ventures. Employing organizations provide employees with opportunities to prepare for entrepreneurial careers by involving them in exploration as well as exploitation activities within the company.

What you need to know

The authors utilize the concept of ‘individual ambidexterity’ – being able to engage in both exploration and exploitation – and point out its links to individual and organizational success and careers in entrepreneurship. The entrepreneurship process involves stages of generating and implementing ideas. The authors argue that these two phases of exploring new ideas and then exploiting them follow different logics leading to different types of learning and knowledge.. When employees participate in both exploration and exploitation (i.e., individual-level ambidexterity) in an organizational setting, they are developing the breadth and depth of experience needed to engage in entrepreneurship.


What did the Researchers Do?

Sepideh Yeganegi, Andre O. Laplume,Parshotam Dass and Nathan S. Greidanus focus on ambidextrous individuals – individuals who can host contradictions; engage in multiple roles; actively refine and renew their skills, expertise, and related knowledge. Yeganegi and her colleagues investigate whether employees who had ambidexterity experiences while working in organizations are more likely to become entrepreneurs. They analyze data contained in the 2011 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor adult population survey relating to entrepreneurial activities of employees, including questions that provide detailed information on work experiences of employees.

What Did the Researchers Find?

The authors discovered that employees who experience individual-level ambidexterity, i.e. exposure to both exploration and exploitation phases in the internal corporate venturing process, are more likely to become nascent entrepreneurs. Their results show that the likelihood of becoming an entrepreneur increases by 75 percent among employees with ambidexterity experience compared to those without.

How can you use this research?

Potential entrepreneurs who are currently employees should think of their employing organizations as training grounds for entrepreneurship. Furthermore, they should seek out work assignments or organizations that provide opportunities for entrepreneurial development, including ambidextrous experiences.

Want to know more?

Contact: Sepideh Yeganegi

Yeganegi, S., Laplume, A. O., Dass, P., & Greidanus, N. S. (2019). Individual‐Level Ambidexterity and Entrepreneurial Entry. Journal of Small Business Management, 57(4), 1444-1463.

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