This paper reports an investigation of entrepreneurial failure using hermeneutic analysis of five entrepreneurship narratives. The data used in this study was collected between 2002 and 2005. The research focuses on entrepreneurial orientation and defines entrepreneurs as individuals who can “see what is not there.” The researchers adopted “a deviation from the entrepreneurs’ desired expectations” as their working definition of entrepreneurial failure. The paper progresses through four levels of interpretation in the development of theoretical understanding of personal and organizational learning from failure. The researchers found that individuals and organizations can learn from failure and thus improve chances of ultimate success. However, sometimes individuals and organizations do not learn from entrepreneurial failure and other times there are no lessons to be learned from entrepreneurial failure. The authors created a model of entrepreneurial failure based on an ecological perspective. The study adds to the growing body of research into entrepreneurial failure. It introduces researchers to the importance of seeing entrepreneurial failure within the context of endogenous and exogenous forces. The study provides a mechanism for practitioners to determine whether or not there is learning available from particular instances of entrepreneurial failure.


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