Entrepreneurial learning plays an important role for the survival and development of new firms and has gradually attracted more attention of scholars. However, previous studies mainly focus on entrepreneur learning, while employees as a prominent entrepreneurial learning subject, their learning mechanism is rarely noticed. The function of employee entrepreneurial learning is different from that of entrepreneurs, and the crucial role is improving the efficiency of entrepreneurial task execution. Due to the imperfect incentive mechanism in new firms, employees themselves often lack the initiative and enthusiasm of entrepreneurial learning. Entrepreneur learning has become an important driving factor and source of employee entrepreneurial learning. Therefore, the transfer of entrepreneurial learning has become a frontier topic. What are the key paths for entrepreneurial learning transferring between entrepreneurs and employees? How do entrepreneurs and new firms activate and strengthen these critical paths? The existing literature has not answered clearly yet. To address these concerns, this paper intends to answer the above questions from two perspectives. First of all, in order to reveal the key path from entrepreneur entrepreneurial learning to employee entrepreneurial learning, the most important issue is to explore the most important individual traits that determine employee entrepreneurial learning, and only with these traits can employees better carry out entrepreneurial learning. Recent studies show that three kinds of individual characteristics including capability, motivation and focus are the basic prerequisites for employee entrepreneurial learning. Taking employee employability, job passion, and job crafting as the variables to express capability, motivation and focus, this article examines their mediating role between entrepreneur entrepreneurial learning and employee entrepreneurial learning. Second, this article examines the moderating role of humble leadership on the relationship between employee employability and employee entrepreneurial learning, between job passion and employee entrepreneurial learning, between job crafting and employee entrepreneurial learning. Some studies propose that organizational context factors can strengthen the effect of individual traits on employee entrepreneurial learning. Leadership style, as an influential situational factor, can affect individual trait expression and strengthen the role of individual traits. Among many kinds of leadership styles, humble leadership can establish a high quality interaction mechanism, a highly appreciated and praised organizational atmosphere, and an active communication model, which can further enhance the role of capability, motivation and focus on employee entrepreneurial learning. Based on the data collected from 65 entrepreneurial questionnaires and 205 employee questionnaires in Jilin province, Guangdong province and Beijing in China, this paper uses the regression analysis to do empirical testing. It arrives at the main findings as follows. First, entrepreneur entrepreneurial learning has a significant positive impact on employee entrepreneurial learning. Second, employability, job passion and job crafting have mediating roles between entrepreneur entrepreneurial learning and employee entrepreneurial learning. Third, humble leadership positively moderates the relationship between employability, job crafting and employee entrepreneurship learning. The relationship between employee job passion and employee entrepreneurial learning is not supported by data. The reason may be that the positive impact of job passion on employee entrepreneurship learning has been highly significant. Even if employees do not have the moderating role of humble leaders, the positive emotion will effectively promote the employee entrepreneurial learning behavior. This study contributes to the literature in three significant ways. First, it extends and enriches the current research of entrepreneur entrepreneurial learning by developing the new view of entrepreneurial learning contagion and transfer, and the new level of employee entrepreneurial learning, which can fill up the research gap of less attention on entrepreneurial learning in the employee level, and further promotes the empirical research on the mechanism and path of entrepreneurial learning transfer between entrepreneurs and employees. Second, by introducing three kinds of individual trait including capability, motivation and focus, this study examines the paths from entrepreneur entrepreneurial learning to employee entrepreneurial learning, and enriches the empirical research on the formation mechanism of employee entrepreneurial learning. Third, this paper enriches the existing leadership literature, and focuses on the trait activation theory to reveal the moderating role of humble leadership on the relationship between capability and employee entrepreneurial learning, between behavioral characteristics and employee entrepreneurial learning.
Can Entrepreneurial Learning be Contagious? A Study on the Entrepreneurial Learning Transfer Mechanism from Entrepreneurs to Employees
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 40, Issue 10, pp. 3 - 16,138 (2018) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.2018.10.001
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Cite this article
Zhu Xiumei, Yang Shan, Dong Zhao, et al. Can Entrepreneurial Learning be Contagious? A Study on the Entrepreneurial Learning Transfer Mechanism from Entrepreneurs to Employees[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2018, 40(10): 3-16.