Kevill, Alex, Trehan, Kiran and Easterby-Smith, Mark (2013) Entrepreneurial Learning and Leadership in Action: A Fertile Ground for the Development of Dynamic Capabilities? In: Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship 2013 Conference, November 2013, Cardiff. (Unpublished)

Objectives This paper presents a conceptual and empirical synthesis of entrepreneurialleadership, and ‘dynamic capability’. We pursue this undertaking by reflecting upon an inquiry into the synergies and complexities of leadership development and dynamic capability in UK based micro firms. Both conceptually and empirically it is notable that much of the work on dynamic capability accords little attention to the role of leadership or leadership development. This paper will contribute to filling this gap, by exploring the synthesis of leadership development and dynamic capability and its implications for entrepreneurial learning.

Prior Work Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the key to economic growth: a loud refrain heard from all quarters in the UK these days. The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform define micro firms as consisting of ‘up to nine employees’ (Bridge et al., 2009: 175). At the beginning of 2011 enterprises employing between 0–9 people made up 95.4% of private sector enterprises in the UK and contributed 19.9% of the UK’s private sector turnover which equates to over £600bn (Department for Business Innovation & Skills, 2011). Given the importance that the government are placing upon enterprise in their quest for economic growth the development of micro-organizations is a timely and important area of consideration

Approach - The paper first, examines the key elements of entrepreneurial leadership and dynamic capability, noting in particular the synergies and complexities. Second, we explore the role that entrepreneurial leadership can play in facilitating dynamic capability through an empirical study with owner-managers of UK based micro firms. Hence the synthesis between entrepreneurial leadership and dynamic capability offers a potentially fruitful mechanism to understand the actual dynamics of implementation in action. Finally, we consider the implications of these ideas for promoting business survival and growth.

Implications -Leadership development and dynamic capability pay particular to innovation, the importance of context and environmental dynamism; yet their potential to enrich each other’s perspectives has rarely been explored. The proposed synthesis can therefore enhance both sets of debates and illuminates our understanding of the importance of entrepreneurial leadership for dynamic capabilities and provides originality by combining three rather disparate areas of research – ‘dynamic capabilities’ and ‘leadership development’ in the context of the ‘micro firm’

Value - This study will contribute to the track theme on Entrepreneurial Learning in organisations by developing our understanding of the role of the leader in dynamic capability development. Specifically, this paper will shed light on entrepreneurial leadership development that offers new avenues for dynamic capability development, whilst also providing an opportunity to inform policy and practise relating to supporting owner-managers in developing micro-organizations for the benefit of the economy.

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