The fight is the coach: creating expertise during the fight to avoid entrepreneurial failure

Jeff Stambaugh, Ronald Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explain how the process that occurs before an entrepreneurial failure event provides a coached learning setting that creates entrepreneurial expertise. Design/methodology/approach: This is a conceptual paper drawing on the literatures of expert information processing theory and deliberate-practice expertise development to suggest a model and propositions that flow from the analysis. Findings: Adding to the expert performance literature – specifically the introduction of the notion of emergent practice – this paper proposes that the intensity of the fight to avoid entrepreneurial failure, the duration of the fight, the content required in that fight, and the clarity and rapidity of feedback received, are associated with the creation of entrepreneurial expertise. Research limitations/implications: This paper complements research on learning from failure by exploring how significant learning before entrepreneurial failure either occurs or is avoided, can lead to the creation of entrepreneurial expertise. Practical implications: This research provides guidance for entrepreneurs engaged in the fight to avoid entrepreneurial failure, and suggests ways for prospective supporters to better assess entrepreneurs with failed ventures in their history. Originality/value: The paper applies the deliberate-practice concept, common in sports, games, and the arts, to an “emergent practice” setting; that is, within a real-life (marketplace) setting within which the “fight” to avoid entrepreneurial failure functions as the “coach”; and it describes how the learning necessary for the creation of entrepreneurial expertise likely takes place.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)994-1015
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 5 2018


  • Deliberate practice
  • Entrepreneurial cognition
  • Entrepreneurial expertise
  • Entrepreneurial failure


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