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Entrepreneurial Action: Community and Buddhism contexts in Sri Lanka

Entrepreneurship research has long focused on singular views – the psychological traits, behaviour and opportunity approaches. These single-focus approaches limit the potential to understand entrepreneurship more fully and there are calls to move towards a more integrated view of entrepreneurship that includes context. This thesis supports a broader integration arguing that entrepreneurial action occurs through the interaction between community and religious contexts. This central argument embraces three notions. First, entrepreneurship involves a series of entrepreneurial actions. Second, entrepreneurial action interacts with the context, and third, entrepreneurial action requires agency. The overarching research question for this study is: “How do community and Buddhism interact with entrepreneurial action?” Using the philosophical position of critical realism and the case study approach as the research strategy to theorise entrepreneurial action, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 24 Buddhist entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka. Findings revealed that the actions of an emergent venture flow through two discrete phases: pre-launch and post-launch. The entrepreneurial action themes that emerged in the pre-launch phase were entrepreneurial intention and resourcing, whereas, in this study, the post-launch phase extended beyond the venture to include community vitality. The two types of communities – family and social  interacted with entrepreneurs enabling and constraining their pre-launch actions. The interaction of the enabling and constraining roles of communities created tension for entrepreneurs when realising their venturing aspirations. Entrepreneurs’ religious background – that of Buddhism – guided them to eliminate the tensions imposed by communities. Discernment, right livelihood, and determination are considered the essential Buddhist tenets in this relationship. During the post-launch phase, communities were impacted by entrepreneurial actions. Making positive contributions to improve communities was an objective during the post-launch phase. This objective translated into different altruistic acts that improved community vitality. Serving communities offered excellent potential to improve the economic, social and natural environmental vitalities of those communities. These post-launch entrepreneurial actions were informed by the compassionate dimension of Buddhism. These findings contribute to the entrepreneurial action literature by integrating the concepts involved within the intricacies of community and Buddhism contexts together to more fully inform entrepreneurial action. This study extends the understanding of entrepreneurial action by presenting it as process that incorporates a) pre- and post-launch actions, b) entrepreneurial action and context, c) the definition of community, d) the Buddhist tenets relevant to entrepreneurial actions, and e) entrepreneurial agency. Policymakers, educators, entrepreneurs, and community members can benefit from the findings of this study as it highlights the mechanisms of entrepreneurial action in a Buddhist context.
Type of thesis
Dissanayake Mudiyanselage, N. S. W. (2021). Entrepreneurial Action: Community and Buddhism contexts in Sri Lanka (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14400
The University of Waikato
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