Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)



First Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey Covin

Second Advisor

Dr. Torsten Pieper

Third Advisor

Dr. Neal Mero


This collection of essays examines the influence that top executives have on the level of entrepreneurial orientation (EO) within an organization. EO is defined as the degree to which a firm exhibits behaviors and managerial philosophies that are innovative, proactive and risk-taking. EO is an extensively studied construct, yet there is still much to be explored and understood about its effects and predictors. This study adds to the discussion by examining predictors of EO in the two essays.

Essay 1 examines the influence of top management team characteristics on entrepreneurial orientation and the moderating effect of managerial discretion. It adds to the discussion of EO by invoking both the entrepreneurial orientation concept and upper echelons theory in an attempt to evaluate how the characteristics of the top management team (TMT) are related to the firm’s exhibition of an entrepreneurial orientation. It is posited that the more heterogeneous the team in industry and functional background the greater the organization’s EO. It is further argued that the level of education completed by the top management team will have a positive relationship with EO. Industry-level managerial discretion (managerial discretion) is hypothesized to moderate the TMT characteristics-EO relationship. Results from this research have important implications, for example, for human resource practices at the top management team level.

Essay 2 examines the relationship between CEO tenure and entrepreneurial orientation within family and non-family firms. This essay adds to the knowledge base pertaining to EO by examining how CEO tenure is related to EO. Furthermore, it is expected that this relationship will be moderated by firm ownership type; specifically, family versus non-family firms. Over the course of a CEO’s tenure, an inverted-U relationship is posited such that EO is lower, but increasing in the CEO’s early-tenure stage, highest in the mid-tenure stage, and decreasing in the late-tenure stage. Managerial implications include the need to align incentives that encourage or discourage entrepreneurial behavior with the CEOs’ time-in-office as a basis for achieving or sustaining an appropriately entrepreneurial posture.