Entrepreneurial learning from failure: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Jason Cope

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410 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper develops a deeper conceptualisation of venture failure from a learning perspective. Moving beyond the causes of failure, I seek to develop a richer picture of the impact and outcomes of failure and the learning processes by which entrepreneurs actively grieve for, and recover from, the loss of a business. Based on interpretative phenomenological research with eight entrepreneurs, this paper adds valuable empirical weight to extant conceptual discussions of failure. Marrying emergent literature on entrepreneurial learning with theories of failure, I propose distinctive higher-level learning processes triggered by failure that prove fundamental in personal and business terms. These learning outcomes provide entrepreneurs with invaluable insights into the 'pressure points' of the entrepreneurial process, significantly augmenting levels of entrepreneurial preparedness for future enterprising activity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)604–623
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Business Venturing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • entrepreneurial learning
  • venture failure
  • grief recovery
  • phenomenological
  • action learning


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