Antecedents of entrepreneurial success: a preliminary assessment using data from a leadership development programme for SME owner-managers in Wales

Andrew Gordon Henley, Karen Jones, Heather Norbury

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Objectives: This paper investigates potential antecedents of entrepreneurial success using data drawn from a sample of entrepreneurs participating in leadership development programme for SME owner-managers launched in 2010 running until 2015.
Prior Work: Research on entrepreneurial success is multi-faceted, incorporating individual, organisational and external domains. Previous work highlights the extent to which leadership traits can explain organisation performance. Prior experience of SME leadership development, including previous experience of the programme in question highlights the role of integrated learning, with emphasis on peer-to-peer and observational learning, to address traits such as isolation, low self-confidence and poor delegation.
Approach: The paper adopts a mixed methods approach. Quantitative analysis on a sample of 160 investigates constructs proposed previously as theoretical antecedents of entrepreneurial success: passion for work and tenacity, as well as constructs extensively investigated in previous research on entrepreneurial intention: self-efficacy and interpersonal locus of control. One further construct, proposed as an antecedent of entrepreneurial success, is investigated: new resource skill Qualitative data from an exit questionnaire (sample of 60) as well as semi-structured interviews conducted after programme completion are assessed.
Results: Despite a relative small sample at this stage, the scales appear to be reliable at the start of the programme, with programme participants generally reporting high levels of passion and tenacity. They are also positive about self-efficacy and interpersonal control. Construct correlations suggest that self-efficacy and interpersonal control are associated with resource management skills, as well as passion and tenacity traits. However these findings are difficult to square with prior work, and with qualitative findings which show, on completion, that improved levels of self-confidence are a significant outcome from programme participation.
Implications: The programme is developed around the objectives of improving the “soft” leadership skills of SME owner-managers, explicitly to address the adverse consequences of owner-manager isolation. The development of technical management skills is, in contrast to many other management and leadership development programmes, not an explicit priority or goal here. An interpretation of the results is that such leadership development can be effective in closing the gap between perceptions of entrepreneurial ability and reality. Early findings suggest significant economic benefits may follow.
Value: Literature on the evaluation of integrated leadership development designed specifically for SME business owners is sparse. The paper is a first stage in closing that knowledge gap, exploiting the opportunity for a longitudinal study. This allows before and after comparison, as well, in due course, for medium term tracking post intervention. Results point to the importance of a) appropriate programme design and b) public support to address reluctance to participate.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011
Event34th Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference - Sheffield, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Duration: 09 Nov 201110 Nov 2011


Conference34th Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference
Abbreviated titleISBE 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Period09 Nov 201110 Nov 2011


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