Knowledge entrepreneurship: Linking organizational learning and innovation

Date of Completion

January 2002


Business Administration, Marketing|Business Administration, Management|Health Sciences, Health Care Management




Organizational learning has been shown to lead to improved performance, and innovation has been shown to mediate that relationship. This dissertation investigates a mediating link between organizational learning and innovation. A second-order construct, knowledge entrepreneurship, is introduced as the organizational ability to recognize knowledge acquired through organizational learning as valuable, and then to adopt innovative behavior in order to realize that value. ^ Anchored in the resource-advantage theory of competition, knowledge entrepreneurship is heterogeneously distributed among organizations. It is comprised of four dimensions: environmental awareness, analytical diligence, commitment to new projects, and risk tolerance. Increased levels of knowledge entrepreneurship are found to lead to increased levels of innovativeness, which in turn lead to increased rates of adoption of innovations. ^ An organization's learning orientation (commitment to learning, shared vision, and open-mindedness), along with the leadership's commitment to fostering an innovative culture, is an antecedent to knowledge entrepreneurship. Constrained resources may dampen the link between knowledge entrepreneurship and innovativeness, as may an organization's path dependent inability to respond due to decisions that it has made in the past. ^ Three studies were conducted to investigate the existence of knowledge entrepreneurship among hospitals. In the first study, twenty-one interviews led to the development of a survey instrument and a preliminary model of knowledge entrepreneurship, and hypotheses concerning the relationships of the constructs. A second study used 112 responses to a mail survey to pretest the survey instrument. Finally, a survey of 349 health care executives empirically tested the model and validated the knowledge entrepreneurship scale, and an innovativeness scale, using multiple analytical techniques including LISREL and Partial Least Squares. ^ The dissertation provides support that knowledge entrepreneurship is the organizational ability that links organizational learning and innovation. It demonstrates that this ability is found in differential amounts in organizations, and that higher levels of knowledge entrepreneurship lead to higher levels of innovativeness. ^