PDW Intro

As a prescription for the entrepreneurial process, lean startup methodology combines practitioner insights with ideas drawn from strategy and organization theory, operations management, and software development process management (Furr & Dyer, 2014). At its core it stresses learning about what customers value through a systematic cycle of testing value propositions rapidly with real customers. As a practitioner movement, it has diffused through blog posts and books (e.g., Blank, 2005; Ries, 2011) and has been adopted with surprising speed in entrepreneurial communities worldwide.

However the movement has received very little attention thus far from the academic community. On the one hand, several of its grounding principles are present in the academic literatures on entrepreneurial experimentation (Shah & Tripsas, 2007; Van de Ven & Polley, 1992), rapid product innovation (Eisenhardt & Tabrizi, 1995; Loch, Terwiesch, & Thomke, 2001), learning from failures (McGrath, 1999; Sitkin, 1992), and business model innovation (Amit & Zott, 2001). On the other hand, it gives rise to new theoretical issues and provides new empirical research opportunities that have yet to be explored. We suggest three illustrative research questions here; the PDW will develop a great many more:

  • What are the organizational pre-requisites for effectively adopting lean startup methodology? Can established companies use this method and under what circumstances should they attempt to do so?
  • Are the constituent elements of the lean startup methodology intrinsically complementary? In other words, can they be adopted in isolation or must they be adopted as a bundle?
  • How does the use of lean startup methods to develop a venture’s business model interact with other aspects of a nascent venture, such as its founding team composition and membership in a localized entrepreneurial ecosystem?

The core premise of this PDW is that the lean startup movement deserves scholarly attention. The PDW brings together a group of leading scholars who will share their thoughts on how the lean startup movement may be relevant to management academia. They will each tackle one of six thematic areas, considering its implications for research in different innovation and entrepreneurship sub-domains. Roundtable discussion will then allow participants to engage with the panelists, to collectively generate and validate ideas for research directions, and to discover shared interests with potential future collaborators.



Amit, R., & Zott, C. 2001. Value creation in e‐business. Strategic Management Journal, 22(6‐7): 493-520.

Blank, S. 2005. The four steps to the epiphany K&S Ranch.

Eisenhardt, K. M., & Tabrizi, B. N. 1995. Accelerating adaptive processes: Product innovation in the global computer industry. Administrative Science Quarterly: 84-110.

Furr, N., & Dyer, J. 2014. The innovator’s method: Bringing the lean start-up into your organization Harvard Business Press.

Loch, C. H., Terwiesch, C., & Thomke, S. 2001. Parallel and sequential testing of design alternatives. Management Science, 47(5): 663-678.

McGrath, R. G. 1999. Falling forward: Real options reasoning and entrepreneurial failure. Academy of Management review, 24(1): 13-30.

Ries, E. 2011. The lean startup: How today’s entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses Random House LLC.

Shah, S. K., & Tripsas, M. 2007. The accidental entrepreneur: The emergent and collective process of user entrepreneurship. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 1(1‐2): 123-140.

Sitkin, S. B. 1992. Learning through failure: The strategy of small losses. In B. M. Staw & L. Cummings (Ed.), Research in organizational behavior, vol. 14: 231-266. Greenwich CT: JAI Press.

Van de Ven, Andrew H, & Polley, D. 1992. Learning while innovating. Organization Science, 3(1): 92-116.