Founders are often portrayed as visionary individuals who draw on images of their ventures’ future to lead employees through the uncertainties of the entrepreneurial process. However, focusing on entrepreneurial visions as a tool for leading others insufficiently reflects founders’ personal and potentially secret desires and needs embedded in these visions, such as acquiring personal wealth or pursuing personal values. In particular in founding teams personal elements of entrepreneurial visions may substantially influence a venture’s development. Specifically, team members may hold different visions and pursue different personal desires, which can influence the team’s processes and decisions. How do such “incongruent” visions in founding teams impact the progress ventures make in developing their opportunities to market?
A recent article published in the Journal of Business Venturing by TUM School of Management Researchers Dr. Rebecca Preller, Professor Holger Patzelt, and Professor Nicola Breugst addresses this important question. The authors follow eight founding teams and their ventures over more than 30 months, interviewing each individual founding team member multiple times and closely monitoring the venture’s development.
The study’s first key implication for founders is that although heterogeneity in entrepreneurial visions may exist within the team, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Founding teams holding either congruent visions (visions that can be realized simultaneously within the current venture) and incongruent visions (visions that cannot be realized simultaneously within the current venture) can successfully develop opportunities to market, albeit along different paths. The important contingency, however, is how founding team members approach decision making in the development process. Teams holding congruent visions tend to be more focused in their development efforts. For them, it is key to be proactive when facing challenges in the development process; otherwise, there is the danger that the opportunity will never reach market launch. In contrast, teams holding incongruent visions tend to follow a comprehensive development path. These teams need to establish clear internal structures, processes, and routines for both daily business but also when facing unforeseen events emerging internal to the team (e.g., disagreements) or external to the team (e.g., withdrawal of investors). Thus, understanding the entrepreneurial visions of its members and applying respective behaviors in decision making is a crucial success factor for founding teams when developing their venture’s opportunity to market.
Prof. Dr. Dr. Holger Patzelt
Chair: Entrepreneurship Research Institute
Preller, Rebecca; Patzelt, Holger; Breugst, Nicola: Entrepreneurial visions in founding teams: Conceptualization, emergence, and effects on opportunity development. Journal of Business Venturing (forthcoming), 2018.