Millennial Entrepreneurs & Climate Change Management--A Cross Country Analysis of Innovation.

AuthorGupta, Nakul


Different individuals possess different stocks of human and psychological capital and these individuals vary in the manner they leverage human and psychological capital. Empirical studies that explore and provide a thorough assessment of the link between existing knowledge and entrepreneurship at an individual's cognitive level particularly from the perspective of human capital and emotional agility are scarce. What differentiate innovators from non-innovators, inventors from non-inventors and entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs are the differences in various cognitive processes involved (Hsu, 2017) in acquisition, assimilation, transformation and application of psychological, human and social capitals. Rapid amalgamation of ideas, subsequent emergence of novel cognitive frameworks and images, frequent discussion of these cognitive frameworks and images with potential customers and co-founders and regular collection of noteworthy feedback, to arrive at one successful venture is nothing but components of a distinctive paradigm of entrepreneurship.

The Phenomenon

The individual and human centric strain in literature of the quasi-static and unpredictable phenomenon of climate change remains relatively unexplored. There have been studies on sustainability in the related context. Jacksow and Seo (2010) and Bhatnagar et al. (2011) have used the hearts and mind lens of engagement and have linked to volunteerism for the green engagement. Still a dimension that remains relatively unexplored in contemporary climate change mitigation studies (Adams, Hurd, Lenhartand & Leary, 1998) is the critical role played by contemporary human capital in advancing the requisite intellectual competence needed for combating climate change. It is particularly, interesting to study the innovations and novel ventures that millennial entrepreneurs today are venturing into, since in the past studies in the realms of innovation and human capital driven ventures have been restricted to not more than a handful of domains (Gupta & Bhatnagar, 2013).

Literature Review &Theoretical Framework

When reviewing the academic literature on innovation by climate change mitigation innovators, it is apparent that, while there are numerous and diverse studies directed towards investigating climate change mitigation and innovation separately, there are few, if any, comprehensive models that organize and integrate the climate change mitigation based innovation literature. This systematic literature review was undertaken to yield a theoretical template that forms the grounding for the empirical phase of this research paper (Greenhalgh, Robert, MacFarlane, Bate & Kyriakidou, 2004:582), Gupta & Bhatnagar, 2013).

Time and space are the two most important resources that define the efficiency of an individual in amalgamating her/his cognitive, psychological and material resources to yield a successful venture. This research paper aims to explore the link between human capital and psychological empowerment, and entrepreneurial orientation by uncovering the unexplored and implicit dynamics of human capital and contextual constructs that form an intrinsic part of emergence of novel ventures.

Synthesizing insights from established theories and future research directions from past literature, we develop an analytical framework that conceptually lays down a theoretical grounding that could explain the researched phenomenon of entrepreneurial orientation. Knowledge is an important component of emergence of new ventures (Oviatt& McDougall, 1994). This is because prior knowledge confers an ability to recognize the value of new information, assimilate it, and apply it to commercial ends. Based upon the initial reading of the literature, it was clear that there was a close analogy between the phenomenon of entrepreneurship and the construct of absorptive capacity. Cohen and Levinthal's model (1990) is a generic one, not specific to innovation, and so it had to be adapted (Gupta & Bhatnagar, 2013). From an initial analysis of the literature via database and manual scan of top business journals, we developed a framework that paralleled the absorptive capacity process that an individual supposedly goes through when leveraging human capital and emotional agility for creating climate change mitigation innovations and innovative ventures. This framework served as a starting point for the empirical analysis (fig.1).

Human Capital

Human capital is defined as the knowledge, skills, and abilities residing with and utilized by individuals (Schultz, 1961). The relationship between psychological empowerment and human capital, and innovation is an important link. This is because the evolutionary path of new ventures is intertwined with an innovator's vision, conviction, and knowledge (West & Noel, 2009; Wiklund & Shepherd, 2003; Gupta& Bhatnagar, 2013). Previous research has focused on the link between human capital and opportunity recognition and pursuit (Bhagavatula et al., 2010; Ucbasaran et al., 2008), yet the link with other firm practices such as information search intensity and absorptive capacity (measured outside of the typical R&D domain) remains largely uninvestigated (Camison & Fores, 2011; Ucbasaran et al., 2008). Extant research suggests that human capital attributes (e.g., education, experience and skills) and, in particular, the characteristics of managers affect firm outcomes (Hitt et al, 2001). Our focus in this research is on the performance effects of human capital, the leveraging of that capital, and the interaction of human capital with the newly introduced concept of 'emotional agility' to yield novel value (innovations).

Emotional Agility

Sambamurthy et al. (2003) have drawn upon literature in strategy, entrepreneurship and management and have used a multi-theoretical lens to propose a seminal sense and response perspective to further the understanding of effective management in the uncertain times and domains. Two specific capabilities have been proposed by Sambamurthy et al. (2003) to describe innovative alertness, namely, strategic foresight and systemic insight. Foresight is critical to innovative action because it reflects the ability to anticipate and visualize the gaps for proposition of novelties.Insight includes an integrated exploration of opportunities in the conceptualization of novel actions.

To anticipate means to be prepared: knowing what new threats and opportunities may arise in a fast-changing environment (Gupta & Bharadwaj, 2013). There is no assumption that entrepreneurial agility enables the individual or the organization to predict the future. The only thing it does is development of capabilities to tackle unseen future, to look at potential contingencies and to be less surprised by external events. This concept of agility has been furthered by David and Congleton (2013 : 126) when they say, "Effective leaders don't buy into or try to suppress their inner experiences. Instead they approach them in a mindful, values-driven, and productive way--developing what we call emotional agility." This prompt sensing and efficient responding to changes (excitement as well as turmoil) by an individual by managing one's thoughts and feelings is referred to as emotional agility. Numerous studies show that emotional agility can help people alleviate stress, reduce errors, become more innovative, and improve job performance (Bond et al, 2013). This means we have a precedence that says emotional agility can lead to innovation. The question then arises--How? This is the question that has been tried to be explored via this study.

Psychological Empowerment

Various studies have examined the construct of psychological empowerment from diverse research perspectives but most of these have used a variation of Spreitzer's (1992) work (Bhatnagar, 2012). Thomas and Velthouse's (1990) model depicted empowerment as based on four cognitions, or "task assessments", that affected a person's intrinsic motivation for the job at hand. These four psychological dimensions of empowerment were impact, competence, meaningfulness, and choice. According to Thomas and Velthouse (1990:672-3), impact was "the degree to which behavior is seen as 'making a difference' in terms of accomplishing the purpose of the task"; competence was "the degree to which a person can perform task activities skillfully when he or she tries"; meaningfulness "involves the individual's intrinsic caring about a given task"; and choice...

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