Small Business Economics

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 403–423 | Cite as

Corporate entrepreneurship strategy: extending the integrative framework through the lens of complexity science



Whereas our understanding of corporate entrepreneurship (CE) and corporate entrepreneurship strategy (CES) continues to expand, there has been little theoretical development to support the most extensive framework to date: the integrative model of CES as proposed by Ireland et al. (Entrep Theory Pract 33(1):19–46, 2009). According to the model, CES is built upon the “three foundational elements of an entrepreneurial strategic vision, a pro-entrepreneurship organizational architecture, and entrepreneurial processes and behaviors as exhibited throughout the organization” (Ireland et al. 2009, p. 38). The purpose of this study is to present a broad, overarching theory—complexity science—to examine the key elements and propositions of the CES model. Complexity science—founded on assumptions of interdependent heterogeneous agents and nonlinear interactions, as well as non-deterministic and potentially extreme outcomes—offers established multi-level concepts, theoretical boundary conditions, and methodological guidance for scholars to build and test future studies on CE and CES. Though our complexity perspective draws extensively from conceptual work on complex adaptive systems and agent-based models, we ground our arguments on the empirical ubiquity of power law distributions in all constructs and levels of analysis within the CES model. We conclude with a detailed research agenda, as well as a prescriptive discussion related to theory development, quantitative analysis, and practical applications to guide future studies on CE.


Complexity science Corporate entrepreneurship strategy Entrepreneurship Growth expectations Power law distributions Schemata 

JEL Classifications

L22 L26 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of BusinessOhio UniversityAthensUSA
  2. 2.College of BusinessIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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