Sustaining entrepreneurial business: A complexity perspective on processes that produce emergent practice

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Abstract

This article examines the management practices in an entrepreneurial small firm which sustain the business. Using a longitudinal qualitative case study, four general processes are identified (experimentation, reflexivity, organising and sensing), that together provide a mechanism to sustain the enterprise. The analysis draws on concepts from entrepreneurship and complexity science. We suggest that an entrepreneur’s awareness of the role of these parallel processes will facilitate their approaches to sustaining and developing enterprises. We also suggest that these processes operate in parallel at multiple levels, including the self, the business and inter-firm networks. This finding contributes to a general theory of entrepreneurship. A number of areas for further research are discussed arising from this result.