Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Entrepreneurship, PhD

Committee Chair

Fiet, James O.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Cashon, Cara

Committee Member

Cashon, Cara

Committee Member

Garrett, Robert

Committee Member

Kemelgor, Bruce

Author's Keywords

entreprenuerial orientation; resource based theory; high performance work systems; intangible strategic resources; human resource management


The entrepreneurship literature indicates that entrepreneurially oriented firms perform better and grow faster than firms that are conservatively oriented. Firms with an entrepreneurial orientation (EO) jointly exhibit risk-taking, innovative and proactive behaviors. The EO-firm performance relationship is a well-established one. However, scholars have bemoaned the lack of focus on internal organizational factors that may influence or affect the nature of the relationship. My dissertation uses the framework of the resource-based theory of the firm to argue that the influence of EO on performance is contingent on the resources and the internal organizing context (organizing capability) of a firm. The resource-based theory of the firm emphasizes that firms need to possess valuable, rare and imperfectly imitable resources and internally organize themselves to exploit these resources. Intangible strategic resources (ISR) are the know-how, skills, and intellectual property, patents, brands and informal social networks in a firm. High-performance work systems (HPWS) consist of strategic business practices that focus on leveraging human capital and transforming and executing a firm’s strategy. HPWS enable a firm to exploit its ISR. My dissertation uses the resource-based theory of the firm to argue that resource possession (denoted by ISR) and resource exploitation (denoted by HPWS) are both intrinsically important to entrepreneurial actions (denoted by EO) taken by a firm to realize superior firm performance. My dissertation employs a mix of contingent and configurational models to analyze the influence of varying levels and combinations of EO-ISR and HPWS on firm performance. In doing so, it generates an understanding of the critical boundary conditions that affect the magnitude and nature of the EO-firm performance relationship. It also serves as a new test of the resource-based theory of the firm. My research provides specific guidance on the resource configurations under which firms’ entrepreneurial postures and actions are expected to yield the greatest benefit. My dissertation contributes to the cross-disciplinary evidence-based research in entrepreneurship by extending the resource-based theory of the firm and linking EO, a key entrepreneurship concept, with the fields of strategy and human resource management.