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No man lives on an island: habitual agency and complexity in entrepreneurial decision-making


  • Desmond Ng
  • Harvey James


An entrepreneur's creation of value and moral leadership is primarily an individualised phenomenon. The objective of this study is to develop a socio-cognitive model where an entrepreneur's enactment of valuable opportunities and a moral awareness for others operate within a complex social setting. We develop a 'practiced' concept of 'habitual agency' where an entrepreneur enacts tightly coupled stakeholder exchanges that confirm an entrepreneur's asymmetric advantage. This habitual agency seeks not only to reduce the 'causal ambiguities' surrounding complex stakeholder exchanges, but also to repeatedly apply a generalised moral standard - golden rule - to an entrepreneur's tightly coupled exchange partners. This socio-cognitive explanation of entrepreneurship appeals to the holistic and interdependent tenets of complex systems where entrepreneurship cannot be examined in isolation of the complexities of their social realities. The implications and contributions of this socio-cognitive approach to entrepreneurship and complexity research are also highlighted.

Suggested Citation

  • Desmond Ng & Harvey James, 2016. "No man lives on an island: habitual agency and complexity in entrepreneurial decision-making," International Journal of Complexity in Leadership and Management, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 3(3), pages 244-259.
  • Handle: RePEc:ids:ijclma:v:3:y:2016:i:3:p:244-259

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