Navigating the Changing Landscape of Entrepreneurship
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Navigating the Changing Landscape of Entrepreneurship

In the entrepreneurial world, change is a constant and being able to manage it effectively is crucial for success. This involves helping people adapt to new ways of working by understanding the need for change, communicating it effectively, and providing support to those affected by it.

Research thesis by Kevin Jogin 2023, Sydney.

Abstract

This research is focused on the context of change management from the point of entrepreneurship. As many entrepreneurs fail to see change management as a discipline within the business as a success factor the study has carried out a detailed background analysis that will help entrepreneurs in visualizing the impacts of change.

The background study discovered a critical gap regarding the implementation of change management and the research question and hypotheses to be tested were developed from that. Key variables from these hypotheses also resulted in a detailed conceptual framework and literature study. The key variables that were found to be critical, are the change management perspective (an independent variable) and entrepreneurial success (a dependent variable). The key factors analysed in these contexts were the change management model and change processes and actions. Based on this, the study has aimed to follow a mixed approach with combining both a survey and secondary analysis approach for the study.

The survey process has targeted top-level management and entrepreneurs as they are exposed to these aspects directly. Overall 50 responses were collected through a survey and quantitative analysis of the survey data collected was conducted with various visualization tools (in MS Excel).

The outcome of the study is showing that change management is very beneficial from the perspective of entrepreneurs to assist the management of responsible business ventures from an organisational perspective. The research also presents particular change management model frameworks and implementation processes that a better possible improved strategic framework for the entrepreneurial journey.

The key finding from this research is to suggest the implementation of a hybrid change management model incorporating the application of models such as Kotter’s model, McKinsey’s 7S model and the ADKAR model.

Introduction

1.1 Research Background

Change is considered an inevitable aspect of entrepreneurship. The advent of new technologies and demographic trends, and various other phenomenal changes continually help shape the future of business as performed by organisations. Change management is defined as the discipline that guides organisations and leaders on how to prepare, equip and support individuals to ensure successful adoption of change processes (Autio & Levie 2017). These change processes in an organisation’s values, principles or rules are adopted to drive the organisation towards better outcomes and success. Change management requires a structured approach to supporting individuals in an organisation to move out of their present state and adopt new strategies for future conditions.

In terms of the idea of change management practices to be followed in organisations, individuals should be capable of embracing any form of new change practices in their workplace. These might include market changes, new technology being implemented and uptake of various new strategic initiatives (Ali, Irfan & Salman 2019). Entrepreneurship is defined as the concept by which management and development of a business venture are performed. The entrepreneurial perspective is necessary for an organisation to profit by taking risks in a competitive marketplace (Hjorth, Holt & Steyaert 2015). When managing changes to be brought to existing work practices, an entrepreneurial perspective is employed. An entrepreneurial mindset is generally inculcated as it primarily recognises the potential of top managers in proactively shaping the factors influencing a particular change management scenario (Birkinshaw, Zimmermann & Raisch 2016). By employing an entrepreneurial perspective, managers can disrupt existing market beliefs and propose new change actions in their organisation.

1.2 Research Justification/Problem Statement

The principal idea of change management as framed by entrepreneurs can be visualised as innovative and new, which sets it apart from the traditional business processes employed in organisations. Entrepreneurship is conceptualised as the discovery of various opportunities based on the presentation of new economic activities by innovating features of an organisation (Nambisan 2017). Change management methods as understood by entrepreneurs and small organisations are related to their ability and flexibility to facilitate adjustment to changing organisational conditions. When considering an entrepreneurial environment, change management should be aligned with the organisation’s culture, which helps in trying out the newest ideas endlessly (Judge et al. 2015). Change management can be a useful tool in an organisation’s entrepreneurship environment for driving innovation and progress tow benefit existing frameworks (Shirokova et al. 2016). Conversely, ideas that are not aligned with the entrepreneurial environment should be discarded.

Change management is comprised of the tools, techniques and processes required for managing change processes that affect people in an organisational setting. The benefit of this research paper’s discussion will be presented through this selected topic, that requires a deep emphasis on considering the maximum benefits for future with better business outcomes. Further research on the subject would help with visualising the impact of change management from an entrepreneurial perspective (Basile & Faraci 2015). With an entrepreneurial mindset, leadership skills are required to ensure that employees embrace a change, adapt to new processes and incorporate the difference into their daily working style.

1.3 Literature Gap

The previous section focused on the research background in which a problem has been discussed over the change management topic. When seeking an entrepreneurial perspective, a significant challenge faced by entrepreneurs is creating value by making changes (Hardy & Maguire 2017). Although several change management models have gained wide acceptance over recent decades, the choice that entrepreneurs should make in engaging these models to suit their business goals has been adequately discussed. In an entrepreneur-based business environment, an organisation’s owner continually seeks new opportunities to be inculcated into the entrepreneurial environment (Bell 2015). However, in small and mid-sized organisations, the process of change management mostly translates as involving staff across all levels and rewarding them for the creation of new change opportunities.

1.4 Research Aim and Objectives

1.4.1 Research Aim

The research aims to understand the appropriate change management models for entrepreneurs to employ to inculcate change management processes in their organisation.

1.4.2 Research Objectives

Based on the research aim and in quest of possible methods to focus on the research topic, the research objectives that frame the overall research idea are to:

  • analyse the importance of change management and the use of change management tools to shape organisational change processes
  • analyse the various change management models that could be used by entrepreneurs from their perspective
  • define the actions and behavioural traits to be inculcated by entrepreneurs to communicate changes to employees.

1.5 Research Question

Based on the research objectives, the research question framing the research is:

  • What is a suitable change management model to fit with an entrepreneurial perspective and what actions should be taken by entrepreneurs to emphasise change processes within their organisation?

1.6 Research Hypothesis

A research hypothesis is required to state predictions that can be detected and analysed (Cavusgil & Knight 2015). In the case of a research idea, two hypotheses should be designed to address aspects of the aim of the research.

Based on the above research aim, objectives and research question, the following research hypotheses are developed for this study:

H0: There is no benefit in terms of entrepreneurial success of change management processes from the entrepreneurial perspective.

H1: Change management is beneficial for achieving entrepreneurial success from the entrepreneurial perspective.

1.7 Thesis Structure

To make this research study approach more clearly related to the hypothesis, this thesis has been structures according to Figure 1.

Figure 1: Thesis structure


Chapter 2: Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

Change management is a crucial aspect of any entrepreneurial effort as outlined in Chapter 1. The research question chosen for the study on this basis is What is a suitable change management model to fit with an entrepreneurial perspective and what actions should be taken by entrepreneurs to emphasise change processes within their organisation?’. Based on this, a key requirement of this study is to evaluate the perspectives of entrepreneurs themselves regarding aspects of change management and the factors and strategies behind them.

2.2 Conceptual Framework

To explore the change management phenomenon a conceptual framework structure has been developed (Figure.2). This demonstrates that change structure with action and change management models influence on study that allows us to understand extent where improvements can be made.

Figure 2: Conceptual structure (Source: created by author)

2.3 Empirical Research

2.3.1 Change Management

According to Voehl and Harrington (2017), change management can be defined as a disciplined framework that can drive change behaviour in a way that satisfies business objectives. The best practice of management in this context encompasses a wide range of business aspects including changes in processes and organisational structure, and overall cultural changes. Further, communication efforts must be thoroughly considered in this context (Cameron & Green 2019). Formal organisational change management (OCM) efforts require systematic planning and integration efforts so that changes can be aligned with business strategies. The focus needs to be on both the business and the people involved. The key areas of management on which the OCM needs to focus are the planning and implementation of transactional changes and long-term transformational changes (Jayatilleke & Lai 2018) (refer Figure 3). Transactional changes are short-term changes implemented while reforming a certain element of a business or helping remove particular barriers. However, transformational change is more fundamental, and involves changing the foundational structure and culture of an organisation. These changes are made to meet the broad ambitions of business decision makers and executives.

Voehl and Harrington (2017) also highlighted the key elements of change management that are involved in transactional and transformational changes overall. These four elements are shown in Figure 4 and are evaluated on the basis of the formal definition of change management by Voehl and Harrington, as ‘the process, tools and techniques to manage the people-side of change to achieve a required business outcome’. The four elements that are thus evaluated are:

  • processes
  • systems
  • organization structure
  • job roles.
Figure 3: Two main types of organizational change
Figure 4: Four elements of change management (Source: created by author based on Voehl and Harrington (2017))

2.3.2 Importance of Change Management for Entrepreneurs in Terms of Customer Behaviour

Change management is regarded as a crucial factor for entrepreneurs because of the demand for innovation in the market. According to Štverková, Czerná and Pohludka (2021), to continue as an entrepreneur irrespective of the business one is in, it is important to continually implement innovation. They found that this is where the importance of change management comes into play. Its key importance is discussed in regard to customers as they require certain behaviour from an entrepreneur. Sustainability is regarded as a key demand of entrepreneurs in the current era, following trends. Štverková, Czerná and Pohludka (2021) performed a thorough analysis of manufacturing enterprises (in particular) to identify some key areas of innovation, as summarised in Table 1.

Table 1: Areas of innovation identified by customers
(Source: Štverková, Czerná and Pohludka 2021)

 

Quality of implementation

Importance

Employee education

3.2

3.8

Local community support

2.7

3.7

Corporation images

2.5

3.6

Recyclability

2.7

3.5

Local suppliers

2.8

3.4

Waste minimization

3.1

3.2

Innovations

2.5

3.1

Packaging materials

2.9

3.1

Energy saving

2.7

3.1

Renewable resources

2.9

3.1

Product portfolio

2.8

2.9

Logistics

2.4

2.9

Resource allocation

2.8

2.8

Automation

2.7

2.8

Streamlining processes

2.4

2.7

Therefore, the customer perspective of the requirement for innovation is crucial for bringing a change in the market itself and these factors may help entrepreneurs to tap into a new market (Mobtahej 2020). Although the discussion is based on a manufacturing specific field, it suggests that innovation is a crucial step for entrepreneurs, and the implementation of such innovation requires entrepreneurs to implement effective change management.

2.3.3 Perspectives of Entrepreneurs

In the same way that the importance of entrepreneurship should be understood from the perspective of customer behaviour and its effects on market trends, the perspectives of entrepreneurs themselves are also important to understand. The study of Al Bazie and Braganza (2020) shed light on this context as they explored critical change factors to consider, and the importance and challenges that these offer to entrepreneurs. Their paper studied a particular focus group (Kuwait small and medium-sized enterprises) to evaluate their perspective on change management factors (Muñoz et al. 2018). The key factors considered in the study (as well as the findings based on these; i.e. the mean scores of importance and difficulties for each factor evaluated) are summarised in Table 2.

Table 2: Key findings regarding change management for entrepreneurs
(Source: Al Bazie and Braganza 2020)

Criteria for SME change management

No

Change criteria

Importance*

Difficulty*

1

Chief executive commitment

4.3

3.0

2

Employee trust in management

4.3

2.9

3

Introduce teamworking

4.6

3.0

4

Internal communication

4.1

2.7

5

Establishing a steering group

4.7

3.0

6

Behaviour change

4.3

2.8

7

Organisation strategic resources

4.1

2.7

8

Cultural change

3.9

3.3

9

Attitude change

3.9

2.7

10

Cost-benefit analysis

3.9

2.9

11

Pilot/Trail change programmes

3.9

2.4

12

Providing staff with different skills

3.8

3.1

13

Process modelling tools

3.7

2.5

14

Changing reward systems

3.6

2.4

15

Changing the role of functions

3.5

3.1

16

Identify intangible benefits

3.3

2.8

17

Change individuals’ assessments

3.3

3.2

18

External consultancy

3.2

2.5

19

Cross functional team

3.1

3.5

20

Reducing head count

2.8

2.4

21

Changing reporting lines

2.8

2.4


Key aspects to be considered in change management for entrepreneurs can be evaluated on the basis of these factors. Irrespective of the field, communicating a change and change requirements is a significant aspect of entrepreneurship efforts. The aim in this regard is to ensure that the entire enterprise is together committed to the change. Further, a vision for key changes to be made must be evaluated in this context. The exact future state as well as the required business outcomes should be understood (Leonidou et al. 2020). Then, the change agents or individuals who will help drive the changes must be identified and assigned respective roles and responsibilities. The engagement must be at all levels of the organisational structure that are crucial for the change implementation. Again, the entire process must be planned in detail, with consideration of all adaptations to the environment.

2.3.4 Case Study of Change Management in Entrepreneurship

The empirical studies reviewed in previous sections explored the importance of key factors in change management in the context of entrepreneurs. However, a focus on case studies involving adaptation of significant change management efforts to achieve business outcomes by entrepreneurs would help with an understanding of the importance and perspectives of change for growth and success:

· myBot—Shemi and Procter (2018) presented a case study of a firm in Botswana called myBot, to understand aspects of change management for entrepreneurship. The firm was developed initially as a public firm to help a rural community develop through promotion of its handicraft industry. In 2002, the company was taken over by a new management team and its earnings found to come mainly (80%) from handmade crafts. myBot is now the largest arts and crafts exporter in Botswana. The company reformed its entire business model by upgrading to an e-commerce model. This helped it reach the entire southern African market. Further, a strategy to go online helped the company reach other markets like the United Kingdom, Japan and Europe through social media such as Facebook. The company used effective consumer requirement analysis and communication of these changes to its various employees, and put effort into implementing the changes in a broad organisational context. The change to online strategies was a transformational change. Information and communication technology knowledge and tool implementation, marketing strategies and new promotional strategies (using Facebook) were core aspects considered in this context. Even leadership (the business manager) played a key role in implementing change during the process. Although the sudden changes in business challenged employees and had an initial impact on the performance of myBot (a 5% drop in sales), effective management of the changes ultimately helped it achieve significant outcomes, and it gradually achieved a 10% sales increase.

· Netflix—Another change management case was examined by Wu and Zhou (2021), who presented the case of Netflix. In 1997, the company began its journey as a mail-based rental service providing films and other media content in DVD format based on demand. The company gradually launched its streaming service beginning in 2007 with 1,000 films available online. From there the company entered into original content production. The demand for content on Netflix has increased throughout the Covid pandemic because of people being restricted to their homes. The company made gains through strategic implementation of change management based on environmental requirements. The company completely transformed its business model from offline to online value propositions. This helped it to reach its position as a global leader within 20 years of starting its journey.

2.3.5 Change Management Models

The above discussion relates to entrepreneurial efforts to implement significant levels of innovation whenever there is a requirement to adapt to the market environment. Thus, there is a need for change management models to be adopted for success in change management. According to Stouten et al. (2018), several change managements models can help in this process:

· Kotter’s model—This model consists of eight steps in the change process:

a. establishing a sense of urgency to alert employees to the change

b. developing a guiding coalition

c. developing a vision to change

d. communicating the change to employees

e. developing a change plan (Kickul et al. 2018)

f. short-term actions for change implementation

g. definition of the stage of consolidation with further changes

h. integration of the organisational structure in the change process.

· ADKAR (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement) model—This model considers five key aspects of change:

a. awareness of employees

b. desire to change with effective vision and initiatives

c. knowledge and skills to support change requirements

d. ability to move through the transition

e. reinforcement stage to strengthen and consolidate changes.

· McKinsey model—This model focuses on key elements of the change process:

a. strategy

b. structure

c. systems

d. style

e. staff

f. skills

g. shared values.

· Lewin’s model—This model emphasises three key phases of change:

a. unfreezing existing business processes and models

b. transitioning to new innovations and change considerations

c. refreezing the newly implemented model and structure.

· Kubler–Ross model—This model describes change management as a process of ups and downs where the initial acceptance of a change turns into further resistance (Cucino et al. 2021). However, by following the change curve introduced by this model (see Figure 5), effective acceptance of the change can be achieved.

Figure 5: Change curve (Source: Researchgate.net)

Chapter 3: Methods

3.1 Introduction

This chapter describes the structural development of the research method employed in the current research. The chapter includes an outline of the method, the philosophical construct and research approach followed, the data collection and analysis approach, ethical considerations and limitations (Mohajan 2018). With regard to the data collection approach, the sampling method and sample size are also explored.

3.2 Method Outline

This research employed two research methods. As the study aimed to collect the entrepreneurial perspective to evaluate the importance of change management, the target population needed to be familiar with the context of entrepreneurial challenges. The target population selected for the study was mainly top-level management and entrepreneurs who had faced entrepreneurial challenges; thus, they were the most suitable population for the study (Pandey & Pandey 2015). A survey questionnaire was developed for the study and an online platform chosen for the data collection. The platform used in this context was Google Forms, which provides the facility to not only create and distribute survey forms, but also collect, visualise, summarise and extract responses directly. The data were collected in the form of a .csv file. A secondary approach was also taken, where scholarly resources were used to conduct a qualitative analysis.

3.3 Research Philosophy

The philosophical construct of a research methodology provides the conceptual basis for the research method. A range of philosophical constructs are employed in research, and include positivism, interpretivism and pragmatism. Positivism is a philosophical construct that uses a causality-based concept to develop the research method (Turnbull, Chugh & Luck 2021). This implies that a research methodology based on a positivism philosophy would only focus on the research outcome and the causal relationships between the various factors as per that outcome. No further interpretation is required to be considered for the research method, unlike in the interpretivist philosophy. As the current study developed a conceptual framework for the research, the analysis only required investigation of the causal relationships among the variables and factors constructing this conceptual framework.

3.4 Research Approach

Two dominant research approaches are widely employed for research methodologies: the inductive and the deductive approach. The deductive approach is used when the research question is closed; that is, when there is a limited number of known outcomes that can be achieved from the research. In contrast, for an open research question, a wide range of outcomes are possible to arrive at through the data analysis (Basias & Pollalis 2018). The current research addressed a closed research question with few possible outcomes. Therefore, a deductive approach was more suitable. The possible outcomes from the research are also presented in the form of research hypotheses in Section 1.6 (Rzayeva & Rzayev 2019). These research hypotheses are tested for rejection or acceptance in the discussion Section 5.1.

3.5 Research Design

The study used mixed methods rather than a single method. The two methods combined in the research were an online survey and a secondary research study. The online survey mainly targeted top-level management and start-up chief executive officers or owners. This target population was selected for the study as the aim was to understand entrepreneurial perspectives. However, the secondary study focused on information and data gathered from various scholarly and non-scholarly sources. The purpose of following a mixed approach was to obtain deeper insights from the data analysis because Covid restrictions limited the primary data collection process to some extent (see Section 3.10 for further details).

3.6 Data Collection Process

Data for a research study are usually collected via primary or secondary data collection approaches. In case of primary data collection, the research directly extracts data from a sample population or experiment. In contrast, in the secondary approach, the data are collected from indirect sources, and can be pre-collected data from various scholarly literature, online surveys and government sites (Farghaly 2018). As mentioned, the current research followed a mixed method approach. For the primary findings, an online survey was conducted via a survey form shared through Google Forms (via an email link). The responses were recorded and the summarised dataset extracted via the Google Forms platform itself. The extracted data were downloaded in the form of a .csv spreadsheet file (Moises Jr 2020). Various scholarly literature resources such as peer-reviewed articles were used as secondary data sources. These scholarly resources were collected from the vast Google Scholar literature database.

3.7 Sampling Method and Sample Size

For the primary findings, a random sampling method was used; that is, no bias was introduced in choosing the sample. The sample was chosen at random from the target population without any eligibility criteria. The number of net responses collected was 50 on a probability basis as to be an entrepreneur for min 1 year. For the scholarly database search, a criterion was applied with respect to publication year: no resources were used that were published before 2017 to keep latest data and information.

3.8 Data Analysis Method

The data analysis approach can be of two kinds: quantitative or qualitative. The quantitative approach follows an analysis based on numeric data and statistical models (Dzwigol 2020). In contrast, the qualitative analytical approach is dependent on a conceptual analysis of the information or data available (Le Grange 2018). This may include extracting conceptual themes from data extracted from resources.

In the current study a mixed method approach was employed. The survey data were collected in a categorical manner that is best suited to a quantitative analysis. This analysis approach used data visualisation with pivot tables, and various charts including bar, column and pie charts, to summarise the responses to each survey question. The visualisation tools in the spreadsheet software Microsoft Excel were used for this purpose. The data collected from the secondary research were summarised in a few conceptual themes for a qualitative analysis.

3.9 Ethical Considerations

As the study involved human participants, certain ethical considerations had to be taken into account when the methodology:

· First, it was crucial that a study keeps confidential any personal data regarding participants; thus anonymity was necessary in this research (Bleiker et al. 2019).

· It was also crucial that the formal consent of participants was obtained. To ensure that, a consent statement was shared with participants along with the survey form. This assured the participants that their data would remain confidential.

· Finally, an ethics form was required to be completed to provide a formal record of all ethical considerations and how they were treated in the research.

3.10 Limitations of the Project Methodology Schedule (With Gantt Chart)

Milestones were able to be achieved considering some limitations in the study method being followed in the current research too. These are:

· Because of Covid restrictions, a face-to-face interview method, which would provide deeper insights and qualitative analysis of the data, could not be employed.

· The participants could only be contacted online for the survey, which prevented the researcher from making them aware of the context and consequences of the supplied survey information with the purpose of data analysis.

Figure 6: Project schedule

Chapter 4: Findings

4.1 Introduction

The methodological aspects of the research presented in this thesis are presented in Chapter 3. This chapter presents and explores in detail the key findings from the secondary and primary research methods employed. The secondary findings are presented in the form of an elaborative qualitative discussion, whereas the primary findings are presented as a quantitative analysis of the survey responses collected in the research project. These primary findings are shown in the form of various kinds of chart, including column, bar and pie charts.

4.2 Secondary Findings—Empirical Results

4.2.1 Importance of Change Management in the Context of Entrepreneurship

Change is constant when the context is a business environment. Businesses that adapt to such changes survive for a long time and must adjust in a new competitive environment (Dey 2017). New technologies, continuous globalisation and demand for social responsibility are some of the key drivers of these changes in a business context. In this context, entrepreneurs must adapt to such changes and even thrive on such uncertainty. An uncertain business environment provides a range of new market opportunities for entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur needs to constantly tackle the risk of becoming obsolete and remain as agile as possible. The globalised markets and networked economy in the global context in particular pose the threat of new uncertainties to overcome. Firms must identify more efficient competitive strategies for dealing with their competitors than in the past, when markets were domestic in most sectors (Dey 2017). With growing globalisation in most sectors, entrepreneurs are required to be always alert to be aware of any new threats and trends from any part of the market. Advanced technology-based solutions are also a trend across sectors such as online services and adaptation of digital marketing. The advancement of digital technologies and social networking throughout the world has pushed these trends even further (Markman et al. 2019). Being relevant has become a major challenge for businesses, especially entrepreneurs, who are the most vulnerable to ever-changing market conditions.

According to Hagen, Zucchella and Ghauri (2019), structural flexibility and smaller size helps entrepreneurial ventures adapt faster and learn more quickly in a changing business environment. Such abilities help firms to implement new learnings at a faster rate into their organisational culture and structure. However, less experience as a business and small size also present key challenge for such firms and businesses, making them highly vulnerable to change (Nambisan, Wright & Feldman 2019). These firms are required to implement innovative and strategic changes as fast as possible into their business models. Thus, change management is regarded as a crucial factor for such entrepreneurs because of the demand for innovation in the market. To remain an entrepreneur in whichever sector or industry to which they belong, it is important that they implement strategic changes continually. This is where the importance of change management comes into play for entrepreneurial ventures (Atiase et al. 2017). Key challenges are market trends from the perspective of customers, as these require an entrepreneur to be strategically agile. Sustainability is regarded a key demand of entrepreneurs attempting to follow trends in the current era.

Various factors are crucial to consider when new ventures are creating a brand name and identity. Such firms lack the necessary legitimacy, market trust and market acceptance to survive and become established in any industry. The initial credibility-building phase is entirely dependent on their customers and business partners. Two aspects of strategic agility pointed out by Hagen, Zucchella and Ghauri (2019) are responsiveness and flexibility. An entrepreneur needs to be as responsive as possible to the ever-changing market to which they belong. The stretching of available resources with lean and just-in-time approaches to satisfying immediate demand and trends in the market is crucial to adopt for success. Further, being sufficiently flexible to respond in this way is crucial for these firms. In this context Foss, Klein and Bjørnskov (2019) explored the aspect of entrepreneurial judgement. They defined entrepreneurs as individuals who always seek to bring together heterogeneous resources with a genuine level of uncertainty to maximise profits. This definition of entrepreneurs as judgement or decision makers goes well beyond the usual consideration of an entrepreneurship as a start-up or self-employment activity, to include a function that can occur within an established company. Therefore, the key function here is judging how to strategically use the limited resources at hand to maximise profits so that rapid growth is possible. As previously discussed, gaining credibility is the ultimate goal for these ventures (Hsieh, Molina & Weng 2019). Therefore, available resources and market demand are two key drivers of the judgement an entrepreneur needs to make to survive. Formal institutions, historical trends, the cultural environment, and political, economic and legal factors thus all play a crucial role in this context. All these empirical findings indicate that introducing adaptive or strategic changes is not enough for an entrepreneurial venture. Rather, use of heuristic frameworks to implement such changes throughout the entire organisational structure and culture in such ventures should be considered as well (Kaburi et al. 2017). This stresses the importance of these entrepreneurs following strategic change management processes and models.

4.2.2 Various Models of Change Management

As outline above, implementing change management models and identifying crucial change management processes is crucial for an entrepreneur. In this context, the literature identifies various standard models that may prove crucial for entrepreneurs to explore. A brief overview of such models is provided in Chapter 2 of this thesis. However, the study of Shrestha (2020) provides a more elaborate view of several models in the context of entrepreneurship. The first is Kurt Lewin’s model of unfreeze–change–refreeze, or the changing-as-three-steps (CATS) model. This is one of the leading, and simplest, change management frameworks among the various Western change hypotheses (Arvidsson, Coudounaris & Arvidsson 2020). It simply divides the entire change implementation process into three distinct steps as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7: CATS model by Lewin (Source: Shrestha 2020)

The second model discussed by Shrestha (2020) is McKinsey’s 7S model, which is a management tool rather than a step-by-step model for change implementation. This model (developed by McKinsey in the 1980s) considers seven key internal factors as the drivers of change management in a business: structure, strategy, systems, style, shared values, skills and staff. According to this model, all these components and their context in relation to the main change being implemented must be defined with respect to the business itself. These components are also divided into two distinctive groups: the ‘hard Ss’ and the ‘soft Ss’. The basic model requires some widely popular steps to be followed to ensure tactical and effective integration of all these elements into the change management. First, areas of misalignment in the business model must be evaluated, followed by an optimal design of the organisation as per the requirement for alignment. Based on these areas, the required changes are to be decided and defined before implementing the changes in action (Lin, Yamakawa & Li 2019). While this is occurring, it is crucial to continually keep the seven elements of the 7S model in check so that the entire process can remain within control. A generic definition of the seven components in the context of a change management process is provided in Table 3.

Table 3: Elements of McKinsey’s 7S model
(Source: Shrestha 2020)

Hard ‘S’

Soft ‘S’

Strategy: It is a plan that has been built for gaining sustained competitiveness and to successfully complete in the market. The key in 7’s model is to look and analyze whether it is well aligned with other elements rather than looking at the company to find the strategy, structures etc.

 

Structure: it is the organizational chart of the firm which represents the way of organizing business divisions and units including the information of responsible persons.

 

Systems: These are the processes and procedures of the company, which determines how business is done, focuses on daily activities and reveals decisions that are made. During organizational change, systems must be the main focus for managers.

Style: Style represents how leaders do manage their employees. It emphasizes on the relationships, behaviour and symbolic values of managers.

 

Staff: This is concerned with the type and number of employees needed for the change and the way of their recruitment, training, motivation and rewards.

 

Skills: are the abilities, capabilities and competence of organization’s employees. Identifying employees’ organization and what skills are needed for the change.

 

Shared values: Shared values are the norms and standards that guide employee’s behaviour and company’s actions due to which, it is considered as the foundation of every organization and the core element in 7s’ model.

The eight-step model of change introduced by John Kotter represents extensive reform in the context of strategic and change management. According to this model, in all cases of a failed transformation or organisational change there is a lack of strategic approach to change implementation. Based on this context, the model identifies eight steps that provide a systematic framework for businesses to implement change. Following a step-by-step approach this framework leads to both a responsive and flexible business culture in the organisation to adapt to any changes. These steps are defined in Figure 8.

Figure 8: Kotter’s eight-step model (Source: Shrestha 2020)

The ADKAR model is another standard and efficient model of change management, developed by Jeffery Hiat, founder of Prosci Inc. The key consideration in this model is that every individual in an organisation needs to be sufficiently prepared for any change to be implemented. This model focuses on five key factors for change readiness of the organisation in this context:

a. the awareness of employees

b. the desire to change

c. the knowledge to support the change (as well as the necessary skills)

d. the ability to accept change and learn new skills

e. a reinforcement approach to consolidate the changes.

Finally, the five stages model of Elisabeth Kubler–Ross explores the change process as a continuous curve of individual morale against time, with ups and downs. It describes shock, denial, frustration and depression that further escalates to experiment, decision and integration, as acceptance of the change develops (Cairney 2018). Thus, this model describes the responses of individuals to particular changes being implemented.

4.2.3 Change Management Processes

The above discussion of these models highlights several critical success factors in change management strategies:

· change readiness

· employee communication and training

· leadership alignment with the change objectives

· organisational structure and design

· stakeholder engagement

Discussion of the various aspects of the entire change management context in terms of entrepreneurial ventures has shown that conveying the vision of the change throughout the organisation is crucial, irrespective of the model being followed. This context needs to be conveyed effectively, not only internally but also to all relevant stakeholders, to ensure a successful change implementation. Therefore, communication plays a crucial role in any change implementation strategy. In this context the case study of Municipality of Vlora discussed by Hasanaj (2017) sheds light on some crucial aspects of communication in change management. During the process of territorial reformation in the Municipality of Vlora, certain areas of communication in various phases were found to ultimately lead to a successful transformation if handled efficiently. First, in the initial phases of the transformation, the entire system needed to be broken down so that a new system could be rebuilt over it. This led to a certain level of resistance from employees, which could only be resolved by effective communication regarding the vision and requirements for the changes being implemented. Further, during key stages of the transformation process, many critical activities had to be undertaken. To efficiently and successfully conduct all these activities, proper communication and knowledge transfer regarding the key strategies and actions to be taken was crucial (Upal 2017). In the final stages, the focus had to be on restructuring the entire system to cope with the newly adopted changes. In these phases, it was therefore necessary to respond to and communicate with the employees regarding rewards, effectiveness and roles/authorities in the newly transformed system. Therefore, at each step communication played a critical role internally during implementation of a change with effective management.

4.3 Primary Findings—Descriptive Study

The target population of the survey in the current study consisted of entrepreneurs with top-management level experience, as the purpose of the study was to evaluate entrepreneurial perspectives of change management processes and models. This population has both experience of change management processes and the entrepreneurial experience required to provide an in-depth response. The survey data were collected from a sample of 50 entrepreneurs from a wide range of demographic groups. The sample was a diverse representation of the target population. The diversity of the population was also evident from the survey data, as can be seen from the visualisations of the sample demographics shown in Figures 9–12. The descriptive study established the diversity of the population in terms of age, gender, experience and size of the enterprise.

The age demographics of the population are shown in Figure 9.

Figure 9: Age demographics of the sample

Among the 50 participants:

· 19 were in the 18–30-year age group

· 17 were in the 18–30-year age group

· 8 were in the 18–30-year age group

· 6 were in the 18–30-year age group.

The age demographics of the sample was diverse but the sample distribution was somewhat skewed towards the younger age group.

The gender demographics of the population are explored in Figure 10.

Figure 10: Gender demographics of sample population

Among the 50 participants:

· 22 were female

· 23 were male

· 5 were from the gender group ‘other’.

The gender demographics of the sample were almost symmetrically distributed among male and female groups.

The demographics of the sample population in terms of experience (see Figure 11) was distributed among the 50 participants as follows:

· 17 had 0–5 years’ experience

· 12 had 5–10 years’ experience

· 11 had 10–20 years’ experience

· 5 had 20–40 years’ experience

· 5 had more than 40 years’ experience.

Figure 11: Experience of the participants

Most participants belonged to the 0–20 years’ experience group.

The sizes of enterprises to which the participants belonged (see Figure 12) were distributed as follows:

· 10 were from enterprises with fewer than 10 employees

· 7 were from enterprises with 10–50 employees

· 9 were from enterprises with 50–100 employees

· 16 were from enterprises with 100–250 employees

· 8 were from enterprises with more than 250 employees.

Figure 12: Size of enterprise

The sample was almost symmetrically distributed in terms of enterprise or start-up size, with slightly more participants from the 100–250-enterprise size range.

These results suggest that the sample was a diverse representation of the target people overall.

4.4 Primary Findings—Survey Analysis

The entrepreneurial perspective was important for this study, as indicated by the objectives and research question. To this extent, the survey data revealed some in-depth insights into important aspects to consider in regard to change management, processes and models.

In total, 35 of the 50 respondents (70%) indicated that change management processes and strategies are very important or must be implemented in the entrepreneurial process, highlighting the importance of change management from an entrepreneurial perspective (see Figure 13).

Figure 13: Importance of change management (entrepreneurial perspective)

Only three participants (6%) in the net sample expressed the opinion that change management is not important for entrepreneurial practices.

It was crucial for the study to evaluate the importance of different change management models in terms of a change management framework from the perspectives of the sampled entrepreneurs. It was observed in the current study that a large proportion of the participants identified either the McKinsey 7S, ADKAR or Kotter’s model as their model of choice: 36%, 22% and 22%, respectively. This indicates that the McKinsey 7S model was the most preferred among all the models of change management considered in the study (see Figure 14).

Figure 14: Preference for change management model (entrepreneurial perspective)

Priorities in the context of the change management process were also analysed through the survey evaluation. This highlighted an emphasis on stakeholder engagement, employee communication and training, and leadership alignment as key considerations from the perspectives of the participants. The proportions of respondents identifying these factors as key were 36%, 22% and 26%, respectively (see Figure 15).

Figure 15: Priority of change management process (entrepreneurial perspective)

Regarding the context of communication, certain key aspects were important for exploration in the study. To understand these, considerations around communication that were key to participants regarding change management were also evaluated. The analytical pie chart in Figure 16 shows that communicating about the action plan for change, the needs and processes of the change, and employee feedback are all crucial in this context.

Figure 16: Priority in communication for change management process (entrepreneurial perspective)

The response scores for these three were 22%, 24% and 24%, respectively. However, the other two factors (conveying the influencing roles of employees and the benefits of changes) were not far behind in terms of responses, with 16% and 14% responses, respectively.

Chapter 5: Discussion and Conclusion

5.1 Discussion

The primary findings indicated that from the perspective of entrepreneurs, change management is a critical consideration in succeeding as an entrepreneur. In total, 70% of the sample indicated that change management processes and strategies are very important or must be implemented in the entrepreneurial process: only 6% of the net sample had the opinion that change management is not important for entrepreneurial practices. This finding is well aligned with the secondary finding that entrepreneurs must implement innovative and strategic changes as rapidly as possible into their business models. Thus, change management is a crucial factor for these entrepreneurial ventures. The key challenges are market trends from the perspective of customers, as they require an entrepreneur to be strategically agile. An entrepreneur needs to be as responsive as possible to the ever-changing market to which they belong, to stay flexible enough to respond appropriately.

Certain models were found in the secondary findings to be critical for implementation in the context of change management for the entrepreneurs. These were the ADKAR, Kotter’s, Lewin’s, McKinsey’s 7S and Kubler–Ross models. The participants selected the most crucial among these models from their own perspective. The primary findings showed that a major portion of the participants selected either the McKinsey 7S, ADKAR or Kotter’s model as their model of choice. The responses for these models were 36%, 22% and 22% respectively, which makes a combined net response of 80%. Among these it was observed that the McKinsey 7S model was the most preferred model of change management for the participant entrepreneurs. However, the secondary research findings showed that these three models target three different aspects of change management (Hoek 2020). McKinsey focuses on monitoring and controlling the various elements (7S) of the change implementation process; the ADKAR model focuses on the readiness for change in the organisation as well as the individual context; while Kotter's model represents a systematic framework for businesses to implement change following a step-by-step approach. This framework is able to provide both a responsive and flexible business culture (Jayatilleke & Lai 2018). Given the mixed response to these three models, they can be implemented in combination for effective change management in entrepreneurial ventures. These frameworks can thus be implemented under various merits of change management within their context. For instance, the 7S model can help with evaluating the key resources and responsibilities of a change process, as well as the considerations for monitoring and controlling the process. Conversely, Kotter’s model would be effective for developing a strategic framework for implementing a change.

Regarding change management processes several key areas were identified in the secondary findings as crucial:

· change readiness

· employee communication and training

· leadership alignment with the change objectives

· organisational structure and design

· stakeholder engagement

The primary findings showed that among these areas, from the perspectives of the sampled entrepreneurs, the key considerations were stakeholder engagement, employee communication and training, and leadership alignment; 36%, 22% and 26%, respectively, for a total of 84% of the net responses. Among these three factors, stakeholder engagement and employee communication relate to communication, indicating a strong influence of effective communication in the change management process. In this context the secondary research examined aspects of the transformation of the Municipality of Vlora. The overview of this case study suggested that at each step communication played a critical role internally while implementing a change with effective management. However, it is crucial to closely consider the communication efforts required to be stressed during implementation. To achieve this in the primary study, the key considerations regarding communication in the change management responses of the participants were evaluated. This revealed that, according to the participant perspectives, communicating the action plan for change, the needs and processes of the change, and employee feedback were the highest priority. However, conveying the influencing role ofemployees and the benefits of the changes was close behind in terms of responses. Therefore, all five considerations seem to be crucial for communication efforts during implementation of change management processes.

5.2 Linking with Objectives

To understand the link between the findings and the research outcomes in regard to the key objectives, it is fist necessary to reiterate the key objectives of the study. These were to:

· analyse the importance of change management and the use of change management tools to shape organisational change processes

· analyse the various change management models that could be sought by entrepreneurs from their perspective

· define the actions and behavioural traits to be inculcated by entrepreneurs to communicate changes to employees.

The first objective required and evaluation of the importance of change management in the entrepreneurship context. In this regard, both the secondary and primary findings explored the importance to the entrepreneurs of change management regarding the requirement for responsiveness and flexibility. The next objective required use of change management tools and models. In this regard, the findings showed that it would be better to employ a hybrid model combining multiple change management models (e.g. Kotter’s, McKinsey’s 7S and ADKAR models) than a single model for the strategic framework. Finally, in the context of change actions and behavioural traits, the key findings indicated priorities for three major aspects of change management:

· employee communication and training

· leadership alignment with the change objectives

· stakeholder engagement

Further, the study showed that five key considerations for the actions and efforts regarding communication in the context of change management have similar importance for overall success. These are:

· communicating the action plan for change

· communicating the needs and processes of the change

· employee feedback

· conveying the influencing roles of employees

· communicating the benefits of the changes.

In addition, two hypotheses were tested in the study. These hypotheses related to the association between the two key variables of the study: entrepreneurial success (dependent variable) and perspectives on change (independent variable). The primary and secondary findings together led to rejection of the null hypothesis as there is no benefit offered by the change management processes in entrepreneurial success as per entrepreneurial perspective. This is because the findings of both strongly support a relationship between entrepreneurial success and the change management context.

5.3 Limitations of the Research

Having established the link between the findings and the key objectives of the study, it is important to acknowledge limitations of the study:

• The study environment for the research project was limited because of Covid-related restrictions. The only method available for collecting survey data from a sufficient sample was online. An interview-based approach would have been more suitable for evaluating and providing in-depth insights into the perspectives of the entrepreneurs. However, only a tiny sample would have been achievable via this method because of restrictions related to Covid. Thus, the online survey was the data collection method was chosen for the primary research.

5.4 Future Research

Based on the limitations of the study and the possibility of expanding the project further, there is some scope for further development of the study findings:

· The study sample could be expanded in further studies on this topic, which may reveal even further insights into the context of the project.

· As mentioned in the previous section, an interview-based approach might have been more effective than the survey. Therefore, as Covid-related restrictions relax, face-to-face collection of data will be possible.

· Further studies could also focus separately on individual aspects of change management frameworks for entrepreneurs, such as leadership alignment and stakeholder management (Stouten, Rousseau & De Cremer 2018). This would help in gaining deeper insights into the topic.

· The study might also be developed as an industry-specific or exploratory study as the current research is an generic business study. Regional studies could also be conducted to enable a more specific assessment of various perspectives.

5.5 Conclusion

A detailed evaluation of the various aspects of change in the entrepreneurial context is provided in this thesis. With the help of both primary and secondary data, the study shows the importance of change management in terms of both entrepreneurial requirements and the perspectives of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs must continuously evolve and adapt to external trends and factors driving a culture of change. Therefore, implementation of change management processes and use off change management tools is crucial for them. The study shows that rather than following a single model for a change management framework, it is better to develop a hybrid model based on multiple standard models. Each of the models would target a different virtue in the overall framework. The findings also show that leadership, internal communication and stakeholder engagement are crucial factors to consider when developing an intended framework. The framework must stress these particular virtues. Communication is a critical aspect of such a framework as it must be maintained efficiently throughout all phases of the change implementation process. In this context, it was found that communicating the action plan for change, and the needs and processes of the change, employee feedback, conveying the influencing roles of employees and the benefits of the changes are crucial factors to monitor.

Chapter 6: Recommendations

Based on the detailed discussion and conclusion in the previous chapter it is possible to suggest some strategic recommendations for improving the change management framework for entrepreneurs:

· First, this study shows that rather than following a particular model for a change management framework, it is better to implement a hybrid model. Such a model would combine multiple standard models such as the Kotter's, McKinsey’s 7S and ADKAR models. In this way, the benefits of each can be delivered in a single framework.

· During the change implementation or transformation process, it is crucial to establish an efficient communication framework. Communication tools including meetings, email, intranet, internal server, feedback paths (online or offline), reports and documentation should be adapted in such a framework to the greatest extent possible.

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