The entrepreneurship advantage:

Looking in new places


Advances in Project Management


By Prof Darren Dalcher

Director, National Centre for Project Management
Lancaster University Management School

United Kingdom



The notion of entrepreneurship has attracted considerable interest within management and business since its first appearance in 1437 (Westhead & Wright, 2013; p. 4) and its more popular and common use through the pioneering writing of Jean-Baptiste Say (1803). Yet, while entrepreneurship seems to imply novel projects and undertakings in challenging new contexts, it is very seldomly invoked in project management dialogues. One might have expected the relative proximity between the disciplines to have resulted in greater commonalities and sharing, however in reality the project management community has remained somewhat oblivious to advances in entrepreneurship and to the potential for inter-disciplinary collaboration.

What is this thing called entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is not an easy concept to nail down, and many alternative definitions have been proposed. Entrepreneurship is often associated with the starting and running of new businesses. Westhead & Wright (2013; p. 1) suggest that entrepreneurs can be ‘vital agents of innovative change whose actions lead to the creation of new firms. They can also transform existing firms to exploit economic and socially beneficial opportunities.’

Entrepreneurship has been associated with the creation of something new or different, including new enterprise (Lumpkin & Dess, 1996), new organisations (Low & Macmillan, 1988), as well as new ventures, new markets, and new opportunities (Read et al., 2017). Shane & Venkataraman, identify entrepreneurship as ‘the scholarly examination of how, by whom, and with what effects opportunities to create future goods and services are discovered, evaluated, and exploited’. (2000; p. 218).

Entrepreneurs are often associated with promoting and creating new economic development and social well-being. However, whilst entrepreneurs are linked to ‘generating’ new sources of competitive advantage, their actions can also play a part in ‘destroying’ or replacing older firms, traditions, occupations and jobs. Indeed, Davidsson (2004) positions entrepreneurship as ‘new entry’ through the launching of product, service or business model innovation, as well as ‘imitative entry’, where a new competitor appears on the scene, giving buyers expanded choice opportunities, and thereby threatening established firms. Entrepreneurships can thereby have a wider impact on surrounding systems and environments:

Entrepreneurship can disrupt most industrial sectors, forcing significant changes in product and service offerings, new logistics processes, and new business models.’ (GEM, 2018; p. 16)

Stokes et al. (2010) propose three dimensions of entrepreneurship focused on:

  • the outcomes of entrepreneurship;
  • the processes taken by entrepreneurs; and,
  • the behaviours required by entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship can therefore be perceived as a synthesis of the three dimensions, for example, by observing the behaviours undertaken within and alongside the processes of discovery, development and exploitation related to new ventures with a focus on value and outcomes.

Entrepreneurship is thus concerned with emergent phenomena (Stokes et al.; p. 34). Histrich & Peters perhaps best capture the inherent complexity in terms that will chime with the experiences of many project managers:

Entrepreneurship is the process of creating something new with value by devoting the necessary time and effort, assuming the accompanying financial, psychic, and social risks, and receiving the resulting rewards of monetary and personal satisfaction and independence.’  (Hisrich & Peters, 2002; p. 8)

How project management lost its way

In the wake of the Second World War, project management was entrusted with a significant range of intricate and demanding undertakings, often requiring the integration of complex components, sub-systems, systems, projects, programmes and specialisms (Dalcher, 2015; p. 1). Many of the new initiatives were ambitious, unprecedented, and extremely innovative requiring an entrepreneurial mindset, and a systemic approach to match the rising ambition and complexity levels.


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Editor’s note: The PMWJ Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Gower and other publishers in the Routledge family.  Each month an introduction to the current article is provided by series editor Prof Darren Dalcher, who is also the editor of the Gower/Routledge Advances in Project Management series of books on new and emerging concepts in PM.  Prof Dalcher’s article is an introduction to the invited paper this month in the PMWJ. 

How to cite this paper: Dalcher, D. (2019). The entrepreneurship advantage: Looking in new places, PM World Journal, Volume VIII, Issue III (April).  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/pmwj80-Apr2019-Dalcher-the-entrepreneurship-advantage.pdf



About the Author

Darren Dalcher, PhD

Author, Professor, Series Editor
Director, National Centre for Project Management
Lancaster University Management School, UK


Darren Dalcher, Ph.D., HonFAPM, FRSA, FBCS, CITP, FCMI, SMIEEE, SFHEA is Professor in Strategic Project Management at Lancaster University, and founder and Director of the National Centre for Project Management (NCPM) in the UK.  He has been named by the Association for Project Management (APM) as one of the top 10 “movers and shapers” in project management and was voted Project Magazine’s “Academic of the Year” for his contribution in “integrating and weaving academic work with practice”. Following industrial and consultancy experience in managing IT projects, Professor Dalcher gained his PhD in Software Engineering from King’s College, University of London.

Professor Dalcher has written over 200 papers and book chapters on project management and software engineering. He is Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Software: Evolution and Process, a leading international software engineering journal. He is the editor of the book series, Advances in Project Management, published by Routledge and of the companion series Fundamentals of Project Management.  Heavily involved in a variety of research projects and subjects, Professor Dalcher has built a reputation as leader and innovator in the areas of practice-based education and reflection in project management. He works with many major industrial and commercial organisations and government bodies.

Darren is an Honorary Fellow of the APM, a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, and the Royal Society of Arts, A Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the British Academy of Management. He is a Chartered IT Practitioner. He sits on numerous senior research and professional boards, including The PMI Academic Member Advisory Group, the APM Research Advisory Group, the CMI Academic Council and the APM Group Ethics and Standards Governance Board.  He is the Academic Advisor and Consulting Editor for the next APM Body of Knowledge. Prof Dalcher is an academic advisor for the PM World Journal.  He is the academic advisor and consulting editor for the forthcoming edition of the APM Body of Knowledge. He can be contacted at d.dalcher@lancaster.ac.uk.

To view other works by Prof Darren Dalcher, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/darren-dalcher/.