Entrepreneurs as board members of regional development agencies: the implementation of management processes and roles

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Christie, MJ 2001, 'Entrepreneurs as board members of regional development agencies: the implementation of management processes and roles', in WD Bygrave, E Autio, CG Brush, P Davidson, PG Green, PD Reynolds, HJ Sapienza (eds), Proceedings of Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research: Babson Entrepreneurship Conference, Jönköping, Sweden, 14-16 June, Babson College, Babson Park, MA.


Principal Topic There is increasing recognition of the role of the entrepreneur as a partner in the provision of economic development initiatives. However, little is understood about the role of entrepreneur and other types of stakeholders who are members of the board in a regional development agency. The board in a regional development agency has the intellectual responsibility for the strategic direction of the organization. This intellectual capacity of the board is characterized at a time by increasing globalization of market arrangements and fundamental change in the role of central government. Thus the capacity of a regional development board (RDB) to contribute to the development processes depends crucially on the internal management expertise of the board. This research contributes to our understandings of these relationships by explaining the following research problem: RP: How does a RDB perceive and execute management processes and roles? The execution of RDB management processes and roles is a new, complex and dynamic organizational research phenomenon that required the implementation of case study research to build theory rather than test theory. Method Ten RDB cases formed the basis for this investigation. Qualitative data analysis methods were carried out that included grouping, cross case, cross-cluster, set analysis, pattern matching and data displays. The research proceeded in three stages. Stage one involved the refinement of a conceptual framework, where research issues and interview questions were developed through pilot case studies and attention to the literature. Confirmation of the conceptual framework and the relevant research variables were undertaken in stage two, involving case study interviews and peer evaluation. The third and final stage was theory building to explain the execution of the internal operations of a RDB. Results and Implications A theory-building model explores the relationships between the research issues in terms of the findings generated in the study and identifies systematic patterns of interaction through the data analysed. One contribution of this research is the focus on the internal operations of RDBs that involves entrepreneurs who sit on these boards. Results indicate that boards are likely to achieve greater management action in economic development activities with entrepreneurs controlling the board. This finding has important public policy implications as to who is selected to be a member in a RDB. The willingness or unwillingness of governments to have entrepreneurs as partners in the management of economic development policy may well influence how well economic development initiatives are implemented.