The Accidental Entrepreneur: The Emergent and Collective Process of User Entrepreneurship

Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, Vol. 1, pp. 123-140

Harvard Business School Entrepreneurial Management Working Paper No. 04-054

43 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2007 Last revised: 3 Sep 2013

See all articles by Sonali Shah

Sonali Shah

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Mary Tripsas

Boston College; Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

We develop a process model of how users, an understudied source of entrepreneurship, create, evaluate, share, and commercialize their ideas. We compare and contrast our model to the classic model of the entrepreneurial process, highlighting the emergent and collective nature of the user’s entrepreneurial process. Users are often “accidental” entrepreneurs who happen upon an idea through their own use and then share it with others; more specifically, the development of an idea and subsequent experimentation, adaptation, and preliminary adoption often occur before that idea is formally evaluated as the basis of a commercial venture. Users also tend to engage in collective creative activity prior to firm formation — often within the social context provided by user communities — that results in the improvement of ideas. Finally, we provide detailed data on the prevalence of user entrepreneurship in the juvenile products industry.

Keywords: user entrepreneurship, user innovation communities, entrepreneurship process, collective creativity, emerging industries

Suggested Citation

Shah, Sonali and Tripsas, Mary, The Accidental Entrepreneur: The Emergent and Collective Process of User Entrepreneurship (2007). Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, Vol. 1, pp. 123-140; Harvard Business School Entrepreneurial Management Working Paper No. 04-054. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1022358 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1022358

Sonali Shah

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

Wohlers Hall
1206 South Sixth Street
Champaign, IL 61822
United States

Mary Tripsas (Contact Author)

Boston College ( email )

Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02163
United States

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