An Exploration of the Relationship between Length of Prior Employment, Individual Unlearning, and Entrepreneurial Alertness
Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Sweet, Sequetta F., "An Exploration of the Relationship between Length of Prior Employment, Individual Unlearning, and Entrepreneurial Alertness" (2012). Education Doctoral. Paper 131.
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This study investigated the relationship between length of prior employment, unlearning, and entrepreneurial alertness. Unlearning is defined as a set of actions taken by learners to dispose of knowledge (Hedberg, 1981). Entrepreneurial alertness is defined as “the ability to notice without search opportunities that have been hitherto overlooked” (Kirzner, 1979, p.148). Eighty of 504 entrepreneurs (16%) in New York State completed an online survey. The instrument included: (a) the unlearning construct, informed by Kurt Lewin’s unfreeze-move-refreeze model, consisting of three sub-dimensions measured on a Likert scale (Cepeda-Carrion et al., 2010); and (b) the entrepreneurial alertness scale also consisting of three dimensions measured on a Likert scale (Tang et al., 2010). The results indicated a significant positive relationship between unlearning and entrepreneurial alertness (r=0.349, p= 0.01). No significant correlation was shown to exist between length of prior employment and unlearning or length of prior employment and entrepreneurial alertness. The findings suggest that the process of unlearning is interwoven throughout the process of entrepreneurial alertness and perhaps can be used as a driving force or catalyst to increase or produce entrepreneurial alertness capabilities in individuals. This study could have significance to the field of entrepreneurial learning and entrepreneurship. Researchers endeavor to understand how entrepreneurs learn, since learning and knowledge have been purported to be vital to competitive advantage for companies. Scholars in the field of entrepreneurship are continually confronted with the challenge of understanding how opportunities to bring new products and services to the marketplace are discovered and exploited, by whom and under what conditions (Venkataraman, 1997). The challenge is why, when, and how certain individuals can recognize and exploit these opportunities, but others do not or cannot (Venkataraman, 1997). Understanding whether unlearning and entrepreneurial alertness have a symbiotic relationship is a necessary step in responding to these challenges. If the two constructs are positively correlated, perhaps increasing an individual’s ability to unlearn could be used as a way of increasing his or her ability to be alert; to have more of an inclination to notice, without search, the existence of opportunities.