Towards the

entrepreneurial society

Interview with Yancy Vaillant

Full Professor of Strategy, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, TBS Education, Spain.

Keywords: Entrepreneurship, innovation, entrepreneurial learning, entrepreneurial society, research impact.

How to reference this article: Vaillant, Y., 2022, Towards the entrepreneurial society, Entrepreneurial Mindset Network, accessed [insert date], <>.

First published in 2022 in the Entrepreneurial Mindset Network eZINE Volume 5 no 2.

What are the general topics of your research?

My research is somewhat eclectic and has evolved over the years, but is almost always related with entrepreneurship, innovation and territory. Another constant of my research is that it tends to be very applied and empirical in nature.

What were the key findings in your paper “Entrepreneurial experience and the innovativeness of serial entrepreneurs”?

The results of this study indicate that individuals with past entrepreneurial experience were significantly more likely than those without such experience to currently be involved in a business venture. But this only holds for individuals describing their past entrepreneurial experience as a positive one. Although past entrepreneurial experience contributes to the development of a specific cognitive schema that helps favor future entrepreneurial activities, these findings suggest that the possible liabilities and (de)motivational consequences of entrepreneurial failure over the business re-entry decision neutralize the potential cognitive benefits of such past experience.

This is an important result since it was also found that if individuals with past entrepreneurial experience repeated as entrepreneurs, their subsequent ventures reported significantly greater levels of innovativeness when compared to novice entrepreneurs, irrespective of the nature of the past entrepreneurial experience. Therefore, entrepreneurs do appear to learn from experience by carrying-over the cognitive benefits of entrepreneurial experience to their levels of innovativeness in subsequent venturing, regardless of whether this experience was positive or negative. In an economic context where innovativeness is increasingly the basis of competitiveness, policy encouraging serial entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial re-entry is called for.

Practical experience is an essential prerequisite for entrepreneurial learning. For practitioners, the results of the study imply that it is important to capitalize the learning benefits of past experience. Entrepreneurs with a negative past experience should acknowledge that business failure does not equate to individual failure.

Who are your research findings aimed at e.g. other researchers, policy makers, startups?

Most of my research publications include a final discussion section which offers/proposes implications of my research results and findings for academia, for entrepreneurs and practitioners, and for policy makers. My active involvement as external expert for the OECD’s Centre on Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities as well as my collaborations with the European, Spanish, and Catalan public administrations have help transfer the fruits of my research to policy makers, practitioners and institutions. Likewise my involvement as the founder and director of the entrepreneurial activity observatory responsible for the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor in Catalonia for over ten years at a time when entrepreneurship was just entering the popular vocabulary helped to publicly disseminate some of my entrepreneurship and innovation research, but also (and almost more so) it has helped shape the orientation of my research in order to confront more relevant research questions and generate more impactful applied findings for entrepreneurs and the many other agents involved in developing an entrepreneurial society.

I am increasingly being called upon to intervene in policy discussions and advisory interventions within project ascertaining the role of higher education in the development of the entrepreneurial society. Whereas most higher education institutions and relevant branches of public administrations are still obsessed with the development of the entrepreneurial University, some are beginning to call for a wider entrepreneurial society, where higher education institutions act as guiding catalysts. My research into territorial innovation systems, and the wholistic multifunctional perspective that I have postulated in my studies, are being valued as particularly compatible with the development of the entrepreneurial society model that is increasingly taking roots, and is expected to dominate the digitalized knowledge-based society that will mark most OECD economies in the medium to short term.

Image credit: University of Pretoria

Image Credit: Pixabay

How easy is it for entrepreneurs to benefit from the field of academic research into entrepreneurship?

In order to have impact beyond academia and benefit entrepreneurs, research, researchers, but mostly the higher education institutions where much of this research-based knowledge is generated must become much more integrated within the social eco-systems that surround them. Researchers must be part of a multidirectional conversation and discussion with entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship agents at all levels in order to go beyond divulgation of research results, to the co-construction of problems statements motivating the research objectives that entrepreneurship scholars address. Proper entrepreneurship research requires conceptual enquiry and theoretical advances, but included within a process of reflexivity including empirical testing and observation.

What would need to happen if greater numbers of entrepreneurs were to be able to benefit from academic research findings and recommendations?

As entrepreneurship became very ‘trendy’ over the last decade and a half, there has been a significant rise in the number of voices and experts disseminating knowledge, views and opinions about entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship, and the role of entrepreneurial activity in society. Much has been written from an advocacy perspective, often by non-scholars, and generally lacking academic backing. The role of academia is to test validity of many popular conceptions surrounding entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship scholars must also adopt a more balanced and critical view of entrepreneurial activity, whilst recognizing that entrepreneurship is a social (and economic) phenomenon that is multifaceted and hardly fits within universally applicable and standardised (theoretical) molds.◼️