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Entrepreneurship
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A Review and Synthesis of Entrepreneurship Research:


Towards an Integrative Model of Dependent Variables
Xuequn Wang and Leonard M. Jessup
Journal of Entrepreneurship 2014 23: 163
DOI: 10.1177/0971355714535303
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Article

A Review and
Synthesis of
Entrepreneurship
Research: Towards
an Integrative Model
of Dependent Variables

The Journal of Entrepreneurship


23(2) 163199
2014 Entrepreneurship
Development Institute of India
SAGE Publications
Los Angeles, London,
New Delhi, Singapore,
Washington DC
DOI: 10.1177/0971355714535303
http://joe.sagepub.com

Xuequn Wang
Leonard M. Jessup
Abstract
To assess the progress of the burgeoning entrepreneurship research
literature and whether the entrepreneurship research converges or
diverges since Shane and Venkataraman (2000, 2001), we conducted a
systematic review of dependent variables in the entrepreneurship literature across the US and Europe. We find that the entrepreneurship
literature becomes relatively stable since 2005 and that the US and the
European literature converge on seven core categories of dependent
variables. We then develop an integrative model of dependent variables
to summarise previous research. We conclude our study with mentioning the implications for the existing literature and future studies in the
field of entrepreneurship.
Keywords
entrepreneurship, dependent variable, literature review

Xuequn Wang is Assistant Professor at the Global Institute of Management


and Economics, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, Dalian, China.
E-mail: xuequnwang1600@gmail.com
Leonard M. Jessup is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the
Eller College of Management, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA.
E-mail: len@email.arizona.edu
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164

Xuequn Wang and Leonard M. Jessup

Shane and Venkataraman (2000) propose three central questions of


entrepreneurship: (1) why, when and how opportunities for the creation
of goods and services come into existence; (2) why, when and how some
people and not others discover and exploit these opportunities; and
(3) why, when and how different modes of action are used to exploit
entrepreneurial opportunities (p. 218). Later, Shane and Venkataraman
(2001) further argue that the outcomes of exploiting entrepreneurial opportunities (e.g., industry and society development) should be also considered. Shane and Venkataraman (2000, 2001) and other such articles helped
establish entrepreneurship as a field of study to include the existence,
discovery, pursuit and consequence of entrepreneurial opportunities.
Later studies also helped establish additional boundaries for the field
by distinguishing entrepreneurship from closely related areas such as
strategy and organisational theory and behaviour (Busenitz, West,
Shepherd, Nelson, Chandler & Zacharakis, 2003). However, while the
entrepreneurial opportunity remains one of the main focuses in the entrepreneurship literature, how the field has progressed is less well known.
Because entrepreneurship is still a new academic field, we argue that it
is time to take inventory of the research produced since Shane and
Venkataraman (2000, 2001) and examine the progress of the field.
VanderWerf and Brush (1989) argue that an emerging field such as
entrepreneurship may first converge on a few distinct topics, and then
diverge again. As an emerging field progresses, there is often a tension
between convergence and divergence (Brush, Manolova & Edelman,
2008). For the field of entrepreneurship, convergence can help researchers focus on those phenomena distinctive about entrepreneurship (Shane
& Venkataraman, 2000), and allow researchers to compare their results.
On the other hand, there are still many debates within the field of entrepreneurship in terms of what phenomena are important, and being too
convergent may limit the breadth of phenomena examined (Brush et al.,
2008).
The issue of convergence and divergence remains a hot topic in
entrepreneurship (Davidsson, 2003; Erikson, 2001; Grgoire, Nol,
Dry & Bchard, 2006; Shane & Venkataraman, 2000, 2001; Singh,
2001; Ucbasaran, Westhead & Wright, 2001; Zahra & Dess, 2001).
While many researchers believe that the field of entrepreneurship
remains highly divergent (Aldrich, 1992, 2000; Aldrich & Baker, 1997;
Davidsson, Low & Wright, 2001; Low, 2001; Low & MacMillan, 1988;
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A Review and Synthesis of Entrepreneurship Research 165


Wortman, 1987), other research begins to help establish the convergence
of the field (Grgoire et al., 2006). Nevertheless, the debate about the
progress of the field (convergence versus divergence) remains important
and is likely to continue.
In this study, we try to assess the progress of the field since Shane and
Venkataraman (2000, 2001) by examining the dependent variables in the
entrepreneurship literature. Brush et al. (2008) argue that the dependent
variable is critically important in research, because this variable is a
leading indicator of the cumulative nature in the field. A better understanding of the dependent variables can tell us what we are studying,
and categories of dependent variables can be helpful in showing the
progress of the field (Brush et al., 2008; Grgoire, Meyer & De Castro,
2002). Specifically, the trend of categories of dependent variables may
inform us whether the field is converging on a few categories or diverging towards more categories over time (Brush et al., 2008).
While the question of what we are studying remains central, most of
these reviews focus on documenting the methodological practices of
entrepreneurship (Aldrich, 1992; Aldrich & Baker, 1997; Chandler &
Lyon, 2001; Churchill & Lewis, 1986; Paulin, Coffey & Spaulding,
1982; Wang, Jessup & Clay, 2013). Although some studies focus on
dependent variables, these studies are not without limitations. For example, Brush et al. (2008) reviewed previous research and classified
dependent variables. However, some of Brush et al.s (2008) categories
cannot be differentiated from each other. For example, it is not quite
clear if their innovation and alliance/network categories are completely
differentiated, given that many alliances are developed to facilitate
innova
tion (Tiessen, 1997). Furthermore, developing an integrative
model to capture categories of dependent variables can provide even
more insights. Such an integrative model helps understand how these
categories are related and how addressing one category can help address
and understand another.
To summarise, the entrepreneurship literature has become even more
popular since the publication of Shane and Venkataraman (2000, 2001)
and it would be helpful to examine the progress of the field and assess
if there is any convergence or divergence on what we are studying.
In this study, we review dependent variables between 2002 and 2012
from four top journals. We also compare the European literature to the
US literature. Because the field of entrepreneurship has become more
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166

Xuequn Wang and Leonard M. Jessup

internationalised and the European literature has expanded rapidly


(Brush et al., 2008), it can be very insightful to assess if there is any difference across different regions as the field progresses. We then develop
an integrative model to capture the dependent variables in the entrepreneurship literature. Our study addresses four broad research questions:
1. What are different categories of dependent variables in the entrepreneurship research?
2. What are the trends of dependent variables in the entrepreneurship research?
3. Is there any difference in the categories of dependent variables
across origin of journals?
4. Can an integrative framework be developed to capture the essence
of entrepreneurship research to date?
The rest of this article is organised as follows. First, we review four top
research journals in the field from 2002 to 2012. Then, we present the
findings of the classification as well as the trend of the dependent variables. Next, we compare the difference between the US and the European
literature. Based on those findings, we present the integrative model that
captures these dependent variables. Finally, the article concludes with
the implications of our study.

Method
To assess the progress of the entrepreneurship literature, we conducted
a systematic review, the purpose of which is to identify, appraise and
synthesise the existing research literature with a replicable, scientific and
transparent process (Petticrew & Roberts, 2006; Tranfield, Denyer &
Smart, 2003). In this section, we explain our sample, the protocols for
article admittance and exclusion, following Tranfield et al. (2003).

Planning the Review


To plan the review, it is essential to create a review protocol, including
the specific questions addressed by the study, the population (or sample)
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A Review and Synthesis of Entrepreneurship Research 167


that is the focus of the study, the search strategy for identification of
relevant studies, and the criteria for inclusion and exclusion of studies in
the review (Tranfield et al., 2003, p. 215). Because our study tries to
examine the whole entrepreneurship literature, we do not specify any
search questions. Our sample is from published articles in four top
journals: two published in the US and two published in Europe.
Specifically, we reviewed Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice (ETP),
Journal of Business Venturing (JBV), International Small Business
Journal (ISBJ) and Small Business Economics (SBE). These four journals
are selected because they are well-respected outlets for entrepreneurship
research (Brush et al., 2008), and have relatively high impact factors
(ETP: 2.542; JBV: 3.849; ISBJ: 1.492 and SBE: 1.549). We admit that our
results can be limited by the journals selected.
Our criteria for including and excluding studies followed the approach
of Brush et al. (2008). We included empirical and conceptual studies, and
excluded articles in other scholarship formats (e.g., editorials, commentaries and teaching case studies) because these studies do not have clearly
defined dependent variables. Specifically, for conceptual studies, we
included those that clearly define their dependent variables or present
their conceptual models; for empirical studies, we included quantitative
studies, as well as qualitative studies clearly articulating their dependent
variables based on their qualitative data.

Conducting the Review


We systematically reviewed every article published between 2002
and 2012 in four journals. We selected 2002 as the starting year to
assess the progress of the entrepreneurship literature since Shane and
Venkataraman (2000, 2001). To reduce human error and bias, we created
a data-extraction form for each included article (Tranfield et al., 2003),
and each data record included the general information for that article
(author, title, publication details, brief description, method, sample,
dependent variables). The output of this step was a full listing of articles
with relevant information, which served as the data repository on which
the data analysis was based (Tranfield et al., 2003).
For each study, we included outcomes and mediators. A dependent
variable refers to an output factor in a relationship modelled as
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Xuequn Wang and Leonard M. Jessup

regressed, explained or outcome variable (Dodge, 2003); a mediator


refers to a variable transmitting the effects of another variable and
explains a relation between other variables (Vogt, 1999). In other words,
a mediator functions as a dependent variable in one relationship and as
an independent variable in another relationship. Therefore, a mediator
can be seen as a specific type of dependent variable. For example, in
Edelman, Brush and Manolova (2005) study, resource is the independent
variable, strategy is the mediator and performance is the dependent
variable. Our review included both strategy and performance.

Coding Dependent Variables


After we identified all of the relevant articles, we then coded dependent
variables. The iterative process of identifying categories and checking
for consistency and validity was based on Jones, Coviello and Tang
(2011) and Grgoire, Corbett and McMullen (2011). Fifty papers were
first randomly selected and the dependent variables were coded independently. In this stage, categories and stakeholders for each dependent
variable were identified. The results were then compared, and any
differences were resolved. Next, the rest of the papers were coded
independently. In this stage, new stakeholders and categories were
added whenever necessary. The coding resulted in more than 90 per cent
consistency. Then any difference of coding was discussed. In this
process, Trauth and Jessups (2000) process was followed.
Our coding process was guided by the literature and an inductive
approach of category identification (Lee, 1991), which is different from
previous studies examined dependent variables (Brush et al., 2008;
Grgoire et al., 2002). Specifically, we follow a partially grounded
means to develop meaningful categories through the iterative process
of examination, connection and re-examination by focusing on conceptual meanings of dependent variables (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). When
the categories from the literature were suitable for our study, we used
them directly; when the categories from the literature could be
combined, we used the combined categories; and when no appropriate
categories were available to classify certain dependent variables, we let
the coding categories emerge as our interpretive understanding and
engagement with the dependent variables. In this context, we began
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A Review and Synthesis of Entrepreneurship Research 169


with the inductive development of provisional categories, engaged in
an ongoing examination of categories and comparison of new categories with the dependent variables that had already been coded, and
subsequently altered existing categories as others were created or eliminated (Strauss, 1987). Our coding resulted in 17 finely grained categories (see Table 1). The interpretative account of each coding was
confirmed by returning to the papers and employing pattern-matching
against category fit.
During the coding, we focus on dependent variables stakeholder
rather than level of analysis. If we simply divided the dependent
variables based on level of analysis (e.g., individual, firm and societal
level), there is no way to tell, for example, if firm performance in one
study refers to ventures performance or investors investment outcomes,
making our developed categories confusing.
A necessary (but insufficient) requirement for the reliability of interpretive content analysis is the detailed documentation of procedures
(Kirk & Miller, 1986; Yin, 2013). It is also necessary to follow approaches
that can demonstrate how the categories are consistent with the dependent variables. This happens when readers, after having gone through the
explanations of each category, are able to see how the clarification is
meaningful. In other words, the objective of reliability in interpretive
analysis considers the extent to which the observational process yields
observably consistent findings.
One method to support validity is replication. Through replication
across multiple dependent variables, the findings (categories, in this context) are shown to be generalisable beyond the immediate case (Yin,
2013). Here the objective of validity in interpretive studies is not to
verify a correct answer but rather to convince the reader that a believable
story is being told.
A certain degree of arbitrariness may occur with any attempt to organise past research. During the coding, some dependent variables stand
alone and may not seem to fit any category, while others may fit into
several categories. In these cases, we try to determine the best match to
keep the categories succinct. One example is alliance capital from
Coombs, Mudambi and Deeds (2006). While the name of the dependent
variable may make it fit into venture resources, Coombs et al. (2006)
actually assign alliance capital to the practices of alliance development.
Therefore, we decided to put this variable into strategies and practices.
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Description/Definition

Industry and region


The impact of the entrepreneurial process on the
outcomes
whole industry or on a certain region
Individual characteristics any type of variation among people, whether in their
demographic characteristicsor in their psychological
makeup (Shane, 2003, p. 61)

An individuals positive or negative feelings towards


entrepreneurship opportunities and related activities
Pre-launch intention
Entrepreneurs intentions to exploit a specified
opportunity
Entrepreneurial entry
The actual decision/entry into entrepreneurial
opportunities before any activities are conducted
Venture resources
Various kinds of resources to get ventures started and
to support various business functions
Strategies and practices A variety of activities and effort to obtain and preserve
value from exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities
(Shane, 2003) by entrepreneurs, employees and ventures
Startup outcomes
The impact of the entrepreneurial process on
entrepreneurs, employees and ventures

Pre-launch attitude

Entrepreneurs

Coding Categories

Table 1. Coding Schema

Grgoire et al. (2002)

Combined from Brush et al. (2008),


Grgoire et al. (2002) and Cohen
et al. (2008)
New category

Combined from Grgoire et al.


(2002)

Brush et al. (2008)

Grgoire et al. (2002)

New category

New category

Source

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New category

Investors individual differences

Different attributes between environment

Activities from other agencies


Support from other agencies for entrepreneurs and
ventures

New category

New category

New category
New category

New category

Grgoire et al. (2002)

New category

New category

Investors estimations, decisions and associated


characteristics
Activities and effort to interact with ventures after
investment
The impact of the investment on investors

Those efforts made to overcome the problems of


uncertainty and information asymmetry in venture finance
The nature and sourcing of investors funding

Source: Authors own work.

Environmental
characteristics

Environment

Practices
Support

Other Agencies

Pre-investment
strategies and practices
Pre-investment
resources
Decisions and
Investment
Post-investment
practices
Post-investment
outcomes
Investors
characteristics

Investors

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Xuequn Wang and Leonard M. Jessup

Results
The number of studies included is shown in Table 2. Our study is not to
examine the methods used in previous studies. Therefore, we did not
further break the number based on the methods.
Research Question 1: What are different categories of dependent variables in the entrepreneurship research?
Our review identified a total of 1,585 dependent variables for four
different stakeholders. The four different stakeholders are entrepreneurs
(also including employees), investors (including venture capitalists,
business angels and bankers), other agencies that provide various supports to entrepreneurs, and environment. Based on the different stakeholders, our interpretation of the literature yielded 17 specific categories
to group the literature. Table 3 summarises the results, and Table 4
presents examples of previous studies in each category.
Our analysis revealed that different stakeholders received different
levels of attention. For example, 90.91 per cent of the dependent
variables examine entrepreneurs, while only 1.01 per cent of the dependent variables focus on other agencies. For specific categories, the
percentages range from 35.90 (start-up outcomes) to 0.06 (investors
characteristics).
We admit that our categorisation method is not without limitations,
and there may be other possible ways to classify dependent variables.
However, the method for classifying the dependent variables should
be consistent with the research objectives. For example, we could have
followed Carpenter, Geletkanycz and Sanders (2004) and classified the
Table 2. Entrepreneurship Studies Includeda
ETP
Empirical
Studies
Quantitative
Qualitative
Conceptual
Total
Per cent (%)

JBV

US
440

ISBJ
110

SBE
444

EU Total Per cent (%)

182

258

554

994

95.39

179
3
30
212
20.35

255 434 108


443 551
985
4
7
3
1
4
11
16
46
2
0
2
48
274 486 112
444 556 1042
26.30 46.64 10.75 42.61 53.36 100

94.53
1.06
4.61
100

Source: Authors own work.


Note: aOne in JBV and in ISBJ uses both qualitative and quantitative methods to collect data.

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Entrepreneurs
Pre-launch attitude
Pre-launch intention
Entrepreneurial entry
Venture resources
Financial resources
Other resources
Strategies and practices
Entrepreneurs
Employees
Ventures
Startup outcomes
Entrepreneurs
Employees
Ventures
Industry and region
outcomes
Individual characteristics
Investors
Pre-investment strategies
and Practices
Pre-investment resources
9
47
4
4

9
17
3

JBV
319
24
12
16
23
18
5
63
13
1
49
160
25
0
135
12

261
17
15
12
20
11
9
88
17
2
69
89
12
4
73
11

ETP

18
64
7

580
41
27
28
43
29
14
151
30
3
118
249
37
4
208
23

US

Table 3. Number of Dependent Variables from Each Categorya


ISBJ

202
5
3
7
22
12
10
88
8

80
67
2

65
2

SBE

11
41
9

659
15
6
87
108
93
15
138
11
4
123
253
18
6
229
41

EU

19
41
9

861
20
9
94
130
105
25
226
19
4
203
320
20
6
294
43

0.32

2.33
6.62
1.01

90.91
3.85
2.27
7.70
10.91
8.45
2.46
23.79
3.09
0.44
20.25
35.90
3.60
0.63
31.67
4.16

Per cent (%)

(Table 3 continued)

37
105
16

1441
61
36
122
173
134
39
377
49
7
321
569
57
10
502
66

Total

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ETP
29

10
8
2

368
23.22

JBV
39

14
10
4

649
40.95

US

6
3
3
7
7
215
13.56

ISBJ

Source: Authors own work.


Note: aSome studies have dependent variables from more than one category.

Decisions and investment


10
Post-investment practices

Investment outcomes
4
Financial outcomes
2
Other outcomes
2
Investors characteristics

Other Agencies
3
Practices

Supports
3
Environment

Environmental characteristics

Total
281
Per cent (%)
17.73

(Table 3 continued)

20
4
6
6

1
5
1
4
16
16
721
45.49

SBE
20
4
6
6

1
11
4
7
23
23
936
59.05

EU
59
4
20
16
4
1
16
4
12
23
23
1585

Total

3.72
0.25
1.26
1.01
0.25
0.06
1.01
0.25
0.76
1.45
1.45

Per cent (%)

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Individual characteristics

Industry and region


outcomes

Startup outcomes

Venture resources
Strategies and practices

Entrepreneurial entry

Pre-launch intention

Pre-launch attitude

Entrepreneurs

Dependent Variable

Opportunity identification (Ucbasaran, D., Westhead, P., & Wright, M., 2009) and attitudes
towards family and business issues (Birley, 2002)
Entrepreneurial intention (Gupta,V., Turban, D., Wasti, S., & Sikdar, A., 2009); employees
willingness to act entrepreneurially (Brundin, E., Patzelt, H., & Shepherd, D., 2008) and
intentions to join the family business (Birley, 2002)
Entry into self-employment (Kolvereid & Isaksen, 2006); choice of future employment
(Athayde, 2009)
Network Resources (Tang, 2011)
Time allocated to the venture (Lvesque & Schade, 2005); network activities (Greve & Salaff,
2003); value-creating attitudes and behaviours (Barnett and Kellermanns, 2006); employees
creativity (Wu, C., McMullen, J., Neubert, M., & Yi, X., 2008); innovation (Marvel & Lumpkin,
2007); internationalisation (Cloninger & Oviatt, 2007) and risk management (Yoshikawa, T.,
Phan, P., & Linton, J., 2004)
Entrepreneurs overall satisfaction (Schjoedt, 2009); perceptions of the environment (Tan,
2002) and opportunism (Dickson, P., Weaver, K., & Hoy, F., 2006)
Economic performance (Audretsch, D., Bnte, W., & Keilbach, M., 2008); domestic innovative
activity (Anokhin & Schulze, 2009); growth in employment (Kirchhoff, B., Newbert, S., Hasan, I.,
& Armington, C., 2007); annual university share of patents (Shane, 2004) and new organisations
creation (Rao, 2004)
Cognition (Mitchell, R., Smith, J., Morse, E., Seawright, K., Peredo, A., & McKenzie, B., 2002)
and self-efficacy (Ozgen & Baron, 2007)
(Table 4 continued)

Sample Work

Table 4. Examples of Dependent Variables

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Environmental
characteristics

Environment

Supports

Practices

Other Agencies

Investors characteristics

Post-investment practices
Investment outcomes

Decisions and investment

Pre-investment strategies
and practices
Pre-investment resources

Investors

Dependent Variable

(Table 4 continued)

External obstacles of internationalisation (Arranz & de Arroyabe, 2009); environmental barriers


(Aidis, 2005) and industry turbulence (Baptista & Karaz, 2011)

External consultants project evaluation (Soriano, D., Roig, S., Sanchis, J., & Torcal, R., 2002)
and business advisors service characteristics (Bennett & Robson, 2005)
University support (Allen, S., Link, A., & Rosenbaum, D., 2007; Powers & McDougall, 2005)
and policy programs (Patzelt & Shepherd, 2009)

Venture capitalists strategies (Patzelt, H., zu Knyphausen-Aufse, D., & Fischer, H., 2009)
and learning (De Clercq & Sapienza, 2005)
New funds for investment (Leleux & Surlemont, 2003) and investment size for angel
investors (Wiltbank, R., Read, S., Dew, N., & Sarasvathy, S.D., 2009)
Assessment of team quality (Franke, N., Gruber, M., Harhoff, D., & Henkel, J., 2006); venture
profitability estimates (Shepherd and Zacharakis, 2002) and cross-border venture capital
investment (Alhorr, H., Moore, C., & Payne, G., 2008)
The involvement of additional venture capitalists in subsequent financing (Hopp, 2010)
Internal rates of return (Wiltbank et al., 2009); home runs and strikeouts (Dimov &
Shepherd, 2005); investors behaviour tendency after investment process (Parhankangas &
Landstrm, 2006)
Lead underwriters reputation (Williams, D., Duncan, W., & Ginter, P., 2010)

Sample Work

A Review and Synthesis of Entrepreneurship Research 177


dependent variables into the categories of individual/team, performance
and strategic categorisation, in which case the attitude, intention and
individual characteristics would go into the entrepreneur/team category.
While this categorisation might have been adequate in many contexts,
we found it less useful for our study. Readers may ask what the entrepreneur/team category means exactly. We believe that our categorisation
method can preserve the conceptual meanings between these categories,
and is appropriate for our study.
Research Question 2: What are the trends of dependent variables in
the entrepreneurship research?
To assess the trends of dependent variables in the entrepreneurship
research, we first look at how the number of dependent variables categories change between 2002 and 2012. Table 5 shows the number of
dependent variables examined each year and if any study examines a
certain category of dependent variables in a certain year, and Figure 1
shows how the number of categories changes.
Based on the results, the trend of the dependent variables in the
entrepreneurship research between 2002 and 2012 can be divided into
two stages. First, between 2002 and 2004, the number of categories
decreased to the lowest level of seven. Second, between 2005 and 2012,
the number of categories increased again and remained stable between
12 and 14. These results show that immediately after Shane and
Venkataraman (2000, 2001), researchers seemed to first focus on distinctive phenomena about entrepreneurship and the field appeared to become
more convergent. Then after three years, researchers began to examine
more topics related to entrepreneurship, and the field became a little
more divergent and then remained relatively stable.
We then further look at the trend of specific categories as shown in
Table 5. Based on the results, 17 categories can be divided into three
groups. Categories from the first group receive stable attention from the
field. There is at least one study dealing with categories of pre-launch
attitude, pre-launch intention, entrepreneurial entry, venture resources,
strategies and practices, start-up outcomes and industry and region outcomes in each year. Further, all these categories focus on entrepreneurs.
Therefore, there is a convergence regarding to the important phenomena
of entrepreneurs for the field. Categories from the second group receive
relatively high attention. There is at least one study examining categories
of individual characteristics, pre-investment strategies and practices,
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Source: Authors own work.

Pre-launch attitude
Pre-launch intention
Entrepreneurial entry
Venture resources
Financial resources
Other resources
Strategies and practices
Entrepreneurs
Employees
Ventures
Startup outcomes
Entrepreneurs
Employees
Ventures
Industry and region outcomes
Individual characteristics
Pre-investment strategies and Practices
Pre-investment resources
Decisions and investment
Post-investment practices
Investment outcomes
Investors characteristics
Other Agencies practices
Other Agencies supports
Environmental characteristics

2
3
5
1
1
0
12
2
0
10
30
2
0
28
58
6
1
0
2
0
1
0
1
1
1

2002
1
1
3
1
0
1
29
1
0
28
38
4
0
34
72
0
0
2
1
0
0
0
0
0
1

2003
1
1
7
8
6
0
25
0
1
24
49
2
1
46
95
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

2004
3
4
8
14
11
2
32
3
0
29
41
6
0
35
76
3
1
0
2
0
4
0
2
6
3

2005

Table 5. Number of Dependent Variables from Each Category per Year

6
3
16
15
13
1
29
3
1
25
57
7
0
50
107
3
2
0
9
1
6
0
0
0
0

2006
6
4
7
29
18
6
26
1
0
25
37
1
3
33
70
4
0
1
7
0
2
0
1
3
0

2007
9
1
14
9
7
3
40
8
1
31
53
4
0
49
102
1
2
1
6
0
0
0
0
0
6

2008
7
8
11
17
11
3
40
8
1
31
75
14
1
60
135
2
1
1
2
0
2
0
0
1
3

2009
9
1
13
30
30
3
37
4
0
33
58
6
0
52
110
3
7
0
14
1
3
1
0
0
0

2010
5
5
18
20
12
7
54
4
2
48
63
6
1
56
119
8
1
0
6
1
0
0
0
0
3

2011
12
5
20
29
8
13
53
15
1
37
68
5
4
59
127
7
1
0
10
1
2
1
0
1
6

2012

A Review and Synthesis of Entrepreneurship Research 179

Figure 1. Progress of the Field


Source: Authors own work.

decisions and investment, investment outcomes and environmental characteristics for more than half of the period between 2002 and 2012. These
results may indicate that these five categories can be important for the
field, but researchers paid mixed attention to these categories. Categories
from the third group receive relatively little attention. Less than half of
the period has any study focusing on pre-investment resources, postinvestment practices, investors characteristics, other agencies practices
and supports. These results suggest that some researchers believe that
these categories are important, but the field as a whole has not yet
embraced these categories.
To summarise, our results show that the field first became more
convergent and focused immediately after 2002, and then became
divergent and relatively stable since 2005. Further, the categories of
dependent variables can be divided into three groups the core component, the emerging component and the peripheral component of the field
(see Figure 2). Overall, the entrepreneurship literature seems to converge
on the essential phenomena of entrepreneurs.
Our results also show that the publications of Shane and Venkataraman
(2000, 2001) have a significant impact on the field in two aspects. First,
seven categories of the core component can be fit into the framework
proposed by Shane and Venkataraman (2000, 2001): categories can
be grouped into opportunity discovery (pre-launch attitude, intention and
entrepreneurial entry), opportunity exploitation (venture resources and
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Xuequn Wang and Leonard M. Jessup

Figure 2. Categories of Dependent Variables in the Entrepreneurship


Literature
Source: Authors own work.

strategies and practices) and exploitation outcomes (start-up outcomes


and industry and region outcomes). Second, in 2004, when the number
of categories became lowest and the field became most convergence, the
literature focuses exclusively on these seven categories. These results
show that the work of Shane and Venkataraman (2000, 2001) helps lay
out the foundation and the core of the field, and researchers agree on the
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A Review and Synthesis of Entrepreneurship Research 181


importance of the phenomena proposed by Shane and Venkataraman
(2000, 2001). On the other hand, as the field progress, some researchers
realise that there are other important phenomena relevant to the field and
worth pursuing. Thus, the field became divergent again.
Research Question 3: Is there any difference in the categories of
dependent variables across origin of journals?
In the US literature, the results of ETP and JBV are quite similar: both
journals examine dependent variables from a variety of categories such
as pre-launch attitude, pre-launch intention, entry, venture resources,
strategies and practices, start-up outcomes, industry and region outcomes and individual characteristics. Both journals also examine investors activities (strategies and practices, decision and investment and
investment outcomes) as well as other agencies support to entrepreneurs. On the other hand, there are two differences between ETP and
JBV: first, EPT has examined employees outcomes while JBV does
not; second, JBV has assessed pre-investment resources while ETP
does not. As a whole, the US literature deals with the whole process of
entrepreneurship from pre-launch to launch and post-launch (Baron,
2002), examines the beginning (pre-investment) and the outcomes
(post-investment) of the investment process, as well as tries to understand how other agencies (e.g., universities) support various stages of
the entrepreneurship process.
In the European literature, the difference between ISBJ and SBE is
more obvious. Both journals examined dependent variables from categories of pre-launch attitude, intention, entry, venture resources, strategies
and practices, start-up outcomes, industry and region outcomes, individual characteristics, other agencies practices and support and environ
mental characteristics. On the other hand, no studies from ISBJ focus on
investors, while SBE examines categories of pre-investment strategies
and practices, resources, decisions and investment, post-investment
practices, investment outcomes and investors characteristics. SBE also
examines employees practices during venture development and their outcomes, while ISBJ does not. As a whole, the European literature deals
with the whole process of entrepreneurship and investment, other agencies practices and supports, as well as environmental characteristics.
While the US literature is consistent with the European literature
in many aspects, there are several interesting differences. First, the US
literature deals with fewer stakeholders than the European literature. For
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Xuequn Wang and Leonard M. Jessup

example, no studies in the US literature examine the environment surrounding ventures. Second, the European literature examines additional
categories of dependent variables such as post-investment practices,
investors characteristics, other agencies practices and environmental
characteristics, while no dependent variables from the US literature deal
with these categories. Third, when dealing with investment outcomes,
the European literature focuses only on financial outcomes and ignores
other aspects of investment outcomes. On the other hand, the US literature examines not only financial outcomes but also other aspects of
investment outcomes.
Research Question 4: Can an integrative framework be developed to
capture the essence of entrepreneurship research to date?
Previous literature has proposed several conceptual models or frameworks, and we provide a few examples in Table 6. Overall, each work
has some missing parts and cannot fully capture our results. Therefore,
we propose a new model integrating different categories of dependent
variables, which is thought to be an important part of the reporting
process (Tranfield et al., 2003, p. 219; see Figure 3). Note that our presentation of previous literature is not intended to be a critique, but to
highlight the limitations of previous literature and how our model can
address these limitations. Because most relationships in the model have
been examined in the literature, we provide only a brief description of
our integrative model. We choose those relationships that seem to be
the most supportable based on the literature. We fully admit that other
relationships may exist in the current literature or will emerge in future
studies, and we encourage other discussions or perspectives to complement our model.

Entrepreneurs
Pre-launch Decisions
Shane (2003, p. 10) argues that an entrepreneurial process begins with
the perception of the existence of opportunities, or situations in which
resources can be recombined at a potential profit. After entrepreneurs
identify entrepreneurial opportunities and form their attitudes towards
these opportunities, they decide whether to exploit the opportunities
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(Table 6 continued)

Ignores employees,
investors and other
agencies also does
not include any
outcome

Shane (2003)

Limitations
Ignores employees,
investors, other
agencies and
environment;
Does not consider
industry and region
outcomes

Model or Brief Description

Morris, M., Lewis,


P., & Sexton, D. (1994)

Authors

Table 6. Examples of Conceptual Models and Frameworks from Previous Literature

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Source: Authors own work.

Ignores employees,
investors and other
agencies; Does
not pre-launch
attitude, intention,
entrepreneurial
entry and venture
resources

Ignores investors,
other agencies and
environment

Four main sets of research questions about entrepreneurship: (i) why, when and how
opportunities for the creation of goods and services come into existence; (ii) why, when,
and how some people and not others discover and exploit these opportunities; (iii) why,
when and how different modes of action are used to exploit entrepreneurial opportunities
(Shane & Venkataraman, 2000, p. 218) and (iv) why, when and how different outcomes (e.g.,
entrepreneurs, ventures, industries and societies) resulting from opportunities exploitation
(Shane & Venkataraman, 2001)

Shane and
Venkataraman (2000,
2001)

Wortman (1986)

Limitations

Model or Brief Description

Authors

(Table 6 continued)

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Source: Authors own work.

Figure 3. The Integrative Model of the Dependent Variable

186

Xuequn Wang and Leonard M. Jessup

found. According to Theory of Reasoned Action, individuals attitudes


towards certain activities influence their intention to conduct these activities, which in turn impact their actual behaviours (Fishbein & Ajzen,
1975). Therefore, the more positive entrepreneurs feel towards certain
entrepreneurial opportunities, the more likely the entrepreneurs intend
to exploit these opportunities and engage in actual entrepreneurial
activities.

Launch Activities
In order to exploit certain entrepreneurial opportunities, entrepreneurs
first need various resources. Shane (2003) summarises that financial
resources are important for ventures because abundant financial resources
overcome the liquidity constraints. In addition, ventures need other kinds
of resources, such as human resource value, to progress (Andrews &
Welbourne, 2000). Therefore, when entrepreneurs acquire sufficient
resources, they are more likely to adopt appropriate strategies to exploit
opportunities.

Post-launch Outcomes
We should not only examine the outcomes for entrepreneurs or ventures
but also consider industry and society (Cohen, Smith & Mitchell, 2008;
Shane & Venkataraman, 2001). When ventures survive, increase the
number of employees they hire, and generate profits, industry and society as a whole may enjoy such benefits as a lower level of unemployment. Therefore, the success of ventures can have many positive impacts
on industry and society.

Entrepreneurs Individual Characteristics


Shane (2003) emphasises the importance of individual characteristics
on various steps of the entrepreneurial process. Entrepreneurs are not
randomly determined, and certain individual characteristics influence
entrepreneurs decisions to exploit entrepreneurial opportunities (Shane,

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A Review and Synthesis of Entrepreneurship Research 187


2003). Further, individual characteristics also influence entrepreneurs
subsequent activities and performance. For example, Kent, Van Auken
and Young (1982) find that education provides entrepreneurs with useful
skills for opportunity exploitation. Entrepreneurs with higher education
levels will probably make better decisions and follow appropriate strategies that ultimately improve venture performance.

Other Agencies
Other agencies can provide various supports in different stages of the
entrepreneurial process. For example, the Small Business Development
Centre (SBDC) programme in the US is to assist the start-up and growth
of entrepreneurial ventures (Chrisman, Gatewood & Donlevy, 2002).
The SBDCs services include assisting entrepreneurs with such things as
financial aspects, marketing, production, organisation and other related
problems. Support from agencies such as the SBDC can help entrepreneurs acquire useful skills to better evaluate entrepreneurial opportunities, choose more suitable strategies and enjoy enhanced performance.

Investors
Investors Investment Decisions
Investors invest in ventures so that they can get returns in the future. The
strategies that investors follow, therefore, influence the way in which
they make investments. For example, if certain investors tend not to
emphasise early-stage investment, and a venture in its early stages tries
to get financed via these investors, then these investors will probably
decide not to invest in that venture. Furthermore, to make investments,
investors first need financial resources. Sufficient resources can provide
investors the ability to make investments in the ways desired. Otherwise,
with limited financial resources, investors might not be able to invest
in the way that they would like, which in turn influences their decisions
to invest.
Ventures strategies and practices can also influence investors decision to invest. Before making decisions to invest, investors may first
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evaluate ventures likely profitability and survival based on ventures


strategies and practices (Bruton, Fried & Manigart, 2005). When investors perceive that ventures adopt appropriate strategies and practices and
are more likely make much profit in the future, they are more likely to
invest in these ventures.
Once investors decide to invest in certain ventures, the financial
resources of those ventures increase and those ventures can better put
their efforts into obtaining their desired value from opportunity exploitation. However, if investors decide not to make investments, then those
ventures might not have sufficient financial resources to operate and
deliver planned products or services.

Investors Individual Characteristics


Investors also have individual differences, which may influence the process of investment. For example, investors with more experiences may
be more easily obtain financial resources to invest and may be more
likely to make accurate decisions. In addition, during the investment,
those investors with more experience are more likely to know how to
interact with entrepreneurs and how to facilitate venture development,
which in turn leads to higher returns from the investment.

Environment
Different characteristics of environment may also influence the entrepreneurial process. For example, with lower barriers of internationalisation,
entrepreneurs are more likely to conduct international-oriented strategies
and try to expand their ventures internationally. These strategies and
practices may in turn influence ventures subsequent sales and revenue
performance.
Overall, our model has several attributes unique to previous literature.
First, our model highlights start-up outcomes, the final stage of the entrepreneurial process. Thus, our integrative model shows the final stage of
the entrepreneurial process as well as highlights the importance of other
parts of the model (e.g., strategies and practices) in achieving outcomes.
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A Review and Synthesis of Entrepreneurship Research 189


Second, our integrative model highlights that in order to exploit opportunities; launch activities are executed not only by entrepreneurs but also
by employees.
Third, our integrative model also includes investors, other agencies
and environment. Explicating dependent variables focused on investors
is consistent with the literature in recognising the importance of the relationships between entrepreneurs and resource suppliers (Venkataraman,
1997). Further, one must think more broadly about the field of entrepreneurship highlighting other agencies and environmental causes.
Fourth, our model does not view post-launch outcomes and postinvestment outcomes as the end. Rather, as entrepreneurs finish a complete progress of opportunities exploitation, they may continue to pursue
other opportunities in the future; similarly, as investors complete a specific investment, they turn to other ventures and invest.
We think it is appropriate to regard this integrative model as a
dynamic, digital snapshot in time rather than as a complete, rare painting. The development of an integrative model of the dependent variable
is an ongoing process, given that the knowledge within the literature
changes over time. As Low and MacMillan (1988, p. 139) suggest, As
a body of literature develops, it is useful to stop occasionally, take inventory of the work that has been done, and identify new directions and
challenges for the future. Therefore, our aim here is to take inventory
of what has been studied. While we hope our model can reasonably
represent the literature as well as guide future studies, we do not intend
to suggest that it is the model for entrepreneurship literature and will
never change.

Discussions
Implications for the Field of Entrepreneurship
Our study has important implications for the field of entrepreneurship.
Our study identified seven core categories of dependent variables and
researchers agree that these seven categories are important for the field of
entrepreneurship. The number of categories remains relatively stable
since 2005. These results are consistent with the argument of Vander Werf
and Brush (1989) in that an emerging field may first converge and then
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diverge again. Specially, the field first became convergent between 2002
and 2004, and then became divergent and relatively stable since 2005.
Davidsson et al. (2001) argue that the challenge for the progress of the
field is to examine a set of phenomena which is neither too broad nor too
narrow. Our results may help solve this issue and guide the future progress of the field. First, we identify seven core categories of the field, and
researchers can focus on these categories so that the entrepreneurship
literature can be distinctive from other related fields. Second, we also
identify emerging as well as peripheral categories of the field, and these
categories can make sure that the field has a certain level of divergence
and does not become too narrow. Further, these categories can be good
candidates when the field decides to include additional important and
distinctive phenomena as core components.

Implications for Future Studies


Our study also has important implications for future studies. First, our
study shows that employees attitude and intention have not received
much attention in previous literature. Because entrepreneurs cannot
conduct every action by themselves and may need employees to facilitate the progress of the ventures, the importance of employees is also
recognised in the literature. As seen from our results and integrative
model, studies have examined employees activities (during launch) and
outcomes (post-launch). However, we do not find studies trying to
understand how they decide to engage in opportunity exploitation with
entrepreneurs. Given the importance of start-up teams to the success of
start-up ventures, we believe that understanding these questions can
be quite useful. After all, before employees make any effort to help
entrepreneurs develop ventures and create value, employees first need to
form a positive attitude about the exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities. The factors influencing employees attitude and intention could
be different from those influencing entrepreneurs, and it can be important and interesting to compare and understand these differences.
Second, our integrative model highlights that entrepreneurs individual characteristics are important during the entire entrepreneurial
process. For example, start-up experience not only can increase the
likelihood of the exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities but
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A Review and Synthesis of Entrepreneurship Research 191


also results in better venture performance (Shane, 2003). However, while
unemployment increases the likelihood of entrepreneurial activities,
ventures founded by people after becoming unemployed are less likely
to survive than those founded due to other reasons (e.g., a sound business
plan; Shane, 2003). Therefore, it is very important to adopt a holistic
perspective on entrepreneurs individual characteristics, and it is not
enough to exclusively focus on the effect of those characteristics on the
pre-launch stage. Future studies can examine the effect of more individual characteristics of entrepreneurs on various stages of the entrepreneurial process. If one characteristic can facilitate the exploitation of
opportunities but decrease venture performance, that characteristic may
be less desired.
Third, our integrative model also highlights that we should adopt a
holistic perspective on support from other agencies. This support should
not only aim to increase peoples likelihood of exploiting entrepreneurial
opportunities but also help increase venture performance. After all, the
ultimate purpose of these programs is to assist the launch and growth of
entrepreneurial ventures (Chrisman et al., 2002). Therefore, future studies can assess the role of different programs in various stages of the
entrepreneurial process, to examine if the support from these programs
indeed helps ventures grow and survive. Programs founded to simply
increase the likelihood of exploiting opportunities but not help ventures
grow may need to be revised and changed accordingly.
Fourth, having recognised the importance of entrepreneurs individual characteristics in the entire entrepreneurial process, we also wonder
if investors individual characteristics also have an important role in the
whole investment process. In other words, do any individual characteristics differentiate investors who get higher returns from the investment
from those who do not? If so, do these characteristics influence the whole
process of investment from pre-investment decisions to post-investment
activities and post-investment outcomes, or do the characteristics just
impact one of these stages? If some individual characteristic can influence investors investment decisions, but does not influence their returns,
then that individual characteristic may be less interesting than one that
influences investment decisions as well as increasing investment returns.
If we can find additional relevant investors characteristics, then we may
in turn use them as dependent variables and understand what factors
(e.g., environment) influence these relevant individual characteristics.
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Fifth, most dependent variables focusing on investors deal with venture capitalists, and few examine other types of investors, such as friends
and relatives, angel investors or bankers. While our results can be limited by the outlets reviewed, those results nevertheless indicate that the
entrepreneurship literature has paid less attention to other forms of
investors. Venkataraman (1997) has recognised that the investment strategies are quite different between venture capitalists and business angels,
for example. While venture capitalists are portfolio investors looking for
projects that can enhance potentially higher portfolio returns, business
angels are not portfolio investors and typically have a lower capacity to
undertake highly risky projects (Venkataraman, 1997). Therefore, the
process of decision making for business angels is quite different from
that for venture capitalists. Parallel to the studies focusing on venture
capitalists, future studies may also want to examine the whole investment process of business angels and/or angel groups. Further, it can also
be interesting to examine venture capitalists, business angels, as well as
other kinds of investors in other countries, to compare the differences
across countries.

Limitations and Future Studies


In addition to other limitations already noted, one might also ask why we
did not choose a meta-analysis approach. Because the phenomena and
research questions are quite diverse across the entrepreneurship literature, it is unlikely that meta-analysis will be appropriate for examining
the entrepreneurship literature in totality (Tranfield et al., 2003). On the
other hand, meta-analysis can be quite helpful to answer the question of
whether a relationship exists (e.g., between a certain strategy and venture
performance). Future studies may want to examine other parts of our
integrative model by focusing on one or two categories of dependent
variables and conducting a meta-analysis. For example, given that the
strategy of supply chain integration is an important factor in influencing
the success of ventures, researchers can examine what the factors influencing ventures to adopt supply chain integration are (i.e., focusing on
one category: strategy and practices), or what kinds of resources influencing ventures to adopt supply chain integration are (i.e., focusing on
two categories: resource and strategy and practices). When a sufficient
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A Review and Synthesis of Entrepreneurship Research 193


number of studies have accumulated, meta-analysis can be quite helpful
to answer these kinds of research questions. Here our integrative model
can help researchers choose their focus and answer important questions
for the entrepreneurship literature. Besides, future studies can use other
statistical tools (e.g., Latent Semantic Analysis) to assess the progress
and the core components of the field.

Conclusions
In this article, we classify dependent variables and develop an integrative
model of the entrepreneurship literature following an interpretative
approach to review previous entrepreneurship research. The taxonomy
and model developed in this article can be useful in guiding future
research in entrepreneurship. Our study makes several important contributions. First, our model provides a comprehensive picture of the field as
a whole. Second, we take a rich but unwieldy body of work and attempt
to make it more understandable. Third, our results can help researchers
identify the areas where researchers have paid much attention so that
latter studies can build upon previous work, which encourages the creation of a cumulative tradition in the field. Finally, our work can also help
researchers identify the gaps where more effort is needed. While our
work has its limitations and is not intended to be the definitive literature
review on entrepreneurship, we hope that it at least offers a useful piece
to the entrepreneurship puzzle.
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