FayolleBassoLegrain2008JSBE

In this paper we are developing ideas based on Geert Hofstede’s work. From this author one can notice a strong relationship between the personal values of company founders and the organisation values. The first days in the life of a young firm and its first actors have an impact of the highest intensity on the organisational value system. Following Geert Hofstede’s statement, we really think that the values of firm founders and/or of young company first actors play a key role on the enterprise culture. More specifically, looking at individual values in relation to innovation, initiative and risk-taking, creation of new economic and social wealth and entrepreneurship, we hypothesize that these personal values can quickly move into the collective value system and influence the entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviours of the company. The qualitative indicator we are using in this research to assess such behaviours is entrepreneurial orientation. We keep four out of five dimensions of the Lumpkin and Dess’s indicator, namely innovativeness, risk-taking, autonomy and proactiveness. We qualitatively test the relationship between founder (entrepreneur) values and enterprise culture and we apply our entrepreneurial orientation model to L’Oreal, one of the largest French companies. In this case we are not interested in the founder, Eugene Schueller, but in a key first actor, Francois Dalle, who has identified, evaluated and exploited growth opportunities in the cosmetic market for more than forty years. Our results, in this exploratory phase, are interesting. They underline the role of top manager values, the influence of the enterprise culture and its capacity to counterbalance the eventual negative effects of the national culture on entrepreneurial spirit, and entrepreneurial behaviours in France. Obviously, there is a call for other research to validate the hypothesis and bring knowledge to improve our understanding of key cultural variables and mechanisms which help or inhibit the entrepreneurial orientation and the entrepreneurial dynamics of firms.

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