Unpacking the process of overseas knowledge recontextualisation in returnee entrepreneurship - a learning perspective : a study of returnee entrepreneurs in Vietnam
Truong, Anh Tran Tram
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International entrepreneurship research has recently been directed towards returnee entrepreneurship, a phenomenon in which individuals who acquire knowledge in overseas developed markets return to start businesses in their home emerging markets. Returnee entrepreneurs serve as knowledge brokers in their home country. However, research has yet to explain how they transform their overseas knowledge, which is contextually bound, into entrepreneurial outcomes – a process termed overseas knowledge recontextualisation. The thesis positions itself at the intersection of returnee entrepreneurship, international knowledge transfer, and entrepreneurial learning, and explores the phenomenon from both a learning and a socio-cognitive perspective. It approaches the recontextualisation process at an individual entrepreneurial level to answer three research questions: (1) What constitutes the knowledge brought back by returnee entrepreneurs?; (2) What is the process by which returnee entrepreneurs recontextualise their overseas knowledge?; and (3) How do returnee entrepreneurs learn to facilitate the process of overseas knowledge recontexualisation? A qualitative exploratory approach was employed comprising 14 in-depth cases of returnee entrepreneurs in three cities in Vietnam - an emerging economy in South East Asia where returnee entrepreneurship has become increasingly prevalent. To ensure the rigour and validity of the research, multiple data sources were used for triangulation. Given the dynamics of the recontextualisation process and the aim to build a data driven theory, the analysis was underpinned by process thinking and grounded theory principles. The thesis contributes to three distinctive strands of literature. First, it extends the returnee entrepreneurship literature by unpacking the holistic process model of knowledge recontextualisation which involves sensemaking, experimenting, and integrating knowledge, each of which is facilitated by the respective learning mechanisms and intertwined with entrepreneurial outcomes. Second, it adds new understanding at an individual entrepreneurial level to international knowledge transfer literature by highlighting the idiosyncratic role of returnees as simultaneous transferors and receivers of knowledge. Specifically, it elucidates mixed-embedded knowledge structures of returnees and identifies key recontextualisation practices pertaining to returnee entrepreneurship. Third, it adds on entrepreneurial learning literature by unpacking the complex learning mechanisms that facilitate the process of recontextualisation. Finally, it proposes that, throughout the recontextualisation process, returnees not only enact the overseas knowledge per se, they also transform themselves and influence the home country through cognitive, social, psychological and behavioural processes which denote the micro-foundations of the entrepreneurial dynamic capability displayed by returnees.