Key concepts used in the entrepreneurship

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Historically, philosophers of science did not hold entrepreneurs in high esteem. ( Praag, 1999). Their role in society was seen as robbery ever since Aristotle introduced the idea of the "zero-sum game". Entrepreneurship therefore was not regarded as an activity promoting social well-being. However this era has seen a dramatic change in the subjective perception of entrepreneurship after various renowned economists such as Richard Cantillon, Jean-Baptiste Say, Alfred Marshall, Joseph Schumpeter, Frank Knight, Isreal Kirzner over periods of time laid emphasis on the essence and importance of the entrepreneur. "some writers have identified entrepreneurship with the function of uncertainty-bearing, others with the coordination of productive resources, others with the introduction of innovation, and still others with the provision of capital" (Hoselitz, 1952).

An early thought of entrepreneurship given by Richard Cantillon describes that the real-world marketplace is permeated by uncertainty. His perception of the market is one of a 'self-regulating network of reciprocal exchange arrangements'. (Praag, 1999) This self-regulation causes the businessman or the entrepreneur to meet and bear that uncer­tainty by investing, paying expenses and then hoping for a profitable return. Therefore the distinguishing feature for Cantillon's entrepreneur is the risk-bearing entity.

A classical theorist of entrepreneurship, Jean-Baptiste Say extends the theory of the Cantillon by giving other roles to the entrepreneur. Firstly he acknowledges that there is probability of failure pertaining to any entrepreneur activity, no matter how well conducted. (Say (1803, 1971), p. 331). Secondly he attributes the entrepreneur as a leader who brings other people together in order to build a single productive organism (Schumpeter, 1951). For him to be successful, he "requires a combination of moral qualities that are not often found together; Judgment, perseverance, and knowledge of the world as well as of business" (Say (1803, 1971) pp. 330-331)

A Neo Classical theorist such as Alfred Marshall incorporates the necessity of entrepreneurship for production in his famous Principles of Economics. He asserts that entrepreneurs drive the production and distribution process, they coordinate supply and demand on the market, and capital and labour within the firm. They undertake all the risks that are associated with production. Marshall introduces the element of organization which brings the other factors together, and for him entrepreneurship is the driving element behind organization. By creatively organizing, entrepreneurs create new commodities or improve "the plan of producing an old commodity" (Marshall, 1994). In order to do this, Marshall believed that entrepreneurs must have a thorough understanding about their industries, and they must be natural leaders.

Joseph Schumpeter (1934), an Austrian Economist in his book The Theory of Economic Development, shifts the paradigm of entrepreneurship as a risk taker to one who destroys existing economic order by introducing new products and services, by creating new forms of organisation, or by exploiting new raw materials. By embarking on newness or building on existing products, there is however the tendency to go against the norms of society. (Praag, 1999) supports Schumpeter's theory by adding that, the entrepreneur is seen as an innovator and not a risk taker. "Entrepreneurs are willing to innovate, due to the possession of some scarce motivating forces. Entrepreneurial activity and the accruing profits are not lasting. It is a temporary condition for any person, unless he keeps on innovating".

Knight`s (1967) concepts about the entrepreneur emanates from the ideas of the early fathers of entrepreneurship.. He (Knight) deepens Richard Cantillon's entrepreneur whose characteristics are that of uncertainty and risk-taking. He justifies by saying Entrepreneurial ability includes furthermore, besides the requirements for dealing with uncertainty, 'the power of effective control over other men as well as the intellectual capacity to decide what should be done. (Knight (1921, 1971), p. 269)

Kirzner's entrepreneur requires no special ability or personality to carry out his function; the pure entrepreneur could even hire all the required labor and business talent. (Praag,1999). Kirzner suggests that the process of innovation is actually that of spontaneous "undeliberate learning" (Kirzner, 1985, 10). "Alertness" is the key attribute of the Kirznerian entrepreneur; an alertness to hitherto unnoticed opportunities. In the simplest case, this entrepreneur coincides with the arbitrageur, who recognizes a profit-opportunity in the price differentials in different markets (Douhan et al, 2006)

Drawing conclusion on the essence of this review about concepts of entrepreneurship, the writer finds out that the ideas of Cantillon, Say, Marshall, Schumpeter and Knight fit into the framework of the research. The writer looks for qualities that could impact on the firm performance. He admits that bearing uncertainties and taking risks require a visionary entrepreneur who has strategic and conceptual qualities; One who even in the tide of uncertainty can make bold decisions. The leadership role attributed to the entrepreneur by Say and Marshall justifies the assertion that to able to perform successfully, the entrepreneur requires organisational qualities. Much the same, it will require Schumpeter's entrepreneur with very clear leadership qualities to be able to exploit and create new products or build on existing ones. However, the ideas of Kirzner contradict the writer's intentions. The writer searches for an entrepreneur with entrepreneurial competencies but Kirzner explicitly states that there are no intrinsic skills the entrepreneur should possess. This conflict with the intentions of the writer and as such rejects the Kirznerian theory of the entrepreneur.

As theories have been identified, an operational definition for an entrepreneur will be taken as the one who bears risk, coordinates, organises, leads, innovates or creatively imitate in an entrepreneurial venture. For our research, he should be the owner or manager of who assumes the characteristics of an entrepreneur.

The Economy of Ghana

Found in the western part of Africa, Ghana shares borders with Cote D`Ivoire on the east, Togo on the west, Burkina Faso in the north and Gulf of Guinea in the south. Gold, cocoa production and individual remittances are major sources of foreign exchange. Timber, tuna, bauxite, aluminium, manganese ore, diamonds are also sources of foreign exchange (source; BBC News) Oil production is expected to start substantial operations in the latter part of 2010 running into early 2011. The domestic economy continues to revolve around agriculture, which accounts for more than a third of GDP and employs more than half of the work force, mainly small landholders.

Sound macro-economic management along with high prices for gold and cocoa helped sustain GDP growth in 2008 and 2009. The revised real GDP (at constant 1993 prices) estimate for 2009 is GHc 827.72 million and the nominal GDP (GDP at current prices), GHc 21,746.80 million. The change of real GDP in 2009 over 2008 (GHc 794.82million), i.e., real GDP growth rate is 4.1%, compared to 7.2% growth rate in 2008. The Agriculture sector recorded the highest growth of (6.1%), followed by Services sector (5.9%) and Industry (1.6%). The highest contributor to the overall growth rate is the Finance subsector, 8.7%. This is followed by crops and livestock, and mining and quarrying subsectors, both growing by 8.2%. The subsectors that contributed the least to the overall growth rates are Fishing, Construction and Manufacturing subsectors all of which declined to-2.3%,-1.7% and -1.3% respectively.

Fig. 1 Graph showing Sectorial Growth Rates of the Ghanaian Economy

Source: Revised Gross Domestic Product Estimates, Ghana Statistical Service, 2009

Taking into consideration the service sector alone, it recorded a growth rate of 5.9% and a share of 32.3 % of total GDP. Finance and insurance subsector recorded the highest growth rate of 8.7% in the Services sector. This was followed by Transport and communication subsector, 7.7%, contributing 5.5% to GDP. On the other hand, wholesale, retail trade and hotels and restaurants activities slowed down, recording only 2.8% growth, the lowest in the Services sector.

Fig.2 Graph showing contribution of various components of the general service sector to the economy of Ghana

Source: Revised Gross Domestic Product Estimates, Ghana Statistical Service, 2009

The contribution by the "SERVICES" in the figure above shows quite an impressive contribution to the GDP and it is in these services that the printing industry locates itself. Though not explicitly stated, the contribution provided by the printing industry to the GDP is assumed to have substantial impact.

Entrepreneurship in Ghana

The private sector characterises entrepreneurship in Ghana. Therefore in discussing entrepreneurship, small and medium enterprises cannot be overlooked. The Ministry of Trade and Industry, in 1998 estimated that the Ghanaian private sector consists of approximately 80,000 registered limited companies and 220,000 registered partnerships. Generally, this target group in Ghana is defined Micro enterprises: Those employing up to 5 employees with fixed assets (excluding realty) not exceeding the value of $10,000. Small enterprises: Employ between 6 and 29 employees with fixed assets of $100,000. Medium enterprises: Employ between 30 and 99 employees with fixed assets of up to $1million.

The concept of entrepreneurship is fast gaining grounds in Ghana among business people, academia and government functionaries although small business enterprises have been in existence in a while. (Source; Daily Graphic, Business & Finance | Tue, 12 Jun 2007). With a fairly stable democratic government since 1992, foreign and local entrepreneurs have found it relatively convenient to start business in Ghana. SMEs now dominate the economy in terms of their contribution to Gross Domestic Products (GDP); employment; training of the youth and creating sustainable livelihoods for the majority of the population. According to Professor Stephen Adei, former director of Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), SMEs accounted for about 60 per cent of GDP, with three-quarters of the population deriving their livelihood from the sector.The government realises the important role played by SMEs and has such passed a number of laws to enhance its promotion and development (Nyadu-Addo, 2002). Ghana made a steady progress by improving the business environment. Small businesses can now have access to micro-credit loans. For instance, the Micro-finance and Small Scale Loan Centre (MASLOC) has since October 2007 made a total of GH¢ 18.3 million in direct disbursements in micro-credit and small scale loans to 30,000 beneficiaries across the country. It also had stated that further GH¢ 37 million had been approved pending disbursement to more than 127,000 beneficiaries. (Source: Ghanaian times, 2008)

The conduct of entrepreneurship in Ghana is not only found within the confines of finance. In the bid to steer forward the entrepreneurial drive in Ghana, various institutions such universities have also incorporated in their syllabus the subject of entrepreneurship to foster creativity among the youth. KNUST remains the first example in this regard. Other institutions such as EMPRETEC foundation, the National Board for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (NBSSI) have also assisted various entrepreneurs who desire to start up business by giving them training on business start-ups. Associations such as The Association of Certified Entrepreneurs (ACE) have also taken up the mandate to "promote entrepreneurship by creating access to entrepreneurial education and training among young graduates, businessmen and women, academia, researchers and students". In September 2008, KNUST, in partnership with the Ghana Multimedia Incubator Centre (GMIC), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Ministry of Communications, embarked on a Pre-Incubation Programme to provide business and technical training to students and researchers and also equip them with the requisite knowledge and skills to establish their own businesses. Other organizations have also organized business plan competitions to encourage the youth to start business on their own.

Ghana is making efforts to promote entrepreneurship within its frontiers. The government has given privatisation a big push and such entrepreneurship is on the ascendency. Though she has made strides, there is still more to be done and this does not exclude the printing service industry.

The Printing Industry in Ghana

History has shown that printing in Ghana dates as far back as the 1822. The early days of printing were controlled by the government. However, there has been a shift in these modern times. Though there are still quite a number of printing presses belonging to government, the greater number is owned by private entrepreneurs. A survey released by GhaPPCA in 2000 indicated that there were officially 450 registered printing presses in Ghana. The majority of these are found in the Greater Accra region with 300, 50 in the Ashanti, 40 in the Western, and 60 in the rest of the other regions. The ERP in 1983 saw the spring-up of private printing and the collapse of some government presses.

Components of Printing

Briefly defining the process of printing, it can be split into three main parts: Pre-Press, Press and Post-Press. Pre-Press stage is where all preparation towards actual printing is done. Typesetting, film and plate-making, graphic designing and illustration, colour separation, scanning, filming, are all made here. After this section the prepared plates are taken to the Press stage where actual printing is done. It is mainly done by fixing the prepared plates into the printing machine where paper or the substrate to be printed upon is passed over these plates with the help of inks to make impressions. After printing is done, it is taken to the Post-Press section for further refinement. This takes the form of trimming to make sharp edges, binding or packaging.

A study by (Chea, 2008) shows that the printing sub-sector is mainly small enterprises. A few though could be classified as medium sizes. This evidences from the low and high investment involved in setting up. For the purpose of the research, it is relevant to analyse the industry in terms of education, employment, finance, technology and market. This will help define some characteristics of the industry. Most information about the industry will be drawn from the research by (Nyadu-Addo, 2002) since his research is one of but very few literature about the industry.

Education in the Printing Industry

Since educational reforms in the Ghanaian Educational system in 1987/88, many vocational and technical institutions have been established of which some institutes such as Titus Glover Printing School, Tema Technical Institution, run courses in printing. Today Ingrid Foundation, in collaboration with GhaPPCA also offers courses in printing. At the tertiary level, the KNUST runs a degree programme in Publishing Studies with focus on publishing administration, printing management and design and illustration. The mandate of these institutions is to provide technical and managerial training for the industry. As a result, press owners have passed through these training to enhance their managerial and technical competencies of running a business such as a printing press. Research by (Nyadu-Addo, 2002) shows that over 61% of press owners he interviewed have either completed vocational, secondary or technical training. 30% have completed tertiary education and 8.3% have Middle or Junior Secondary School Certificate. The relatively high level of education is necessary in the industry because with the aid of formal education, press owners have the opportunity to advance their networks by way of good communication and negotiating skills. They also develop their managerial and technical qualities, which still remain the prime reason of the training. For press owners seeing the industry as an opportunity to invest, it was found out that 25% had vocational/ technical/ secondary school education with 5% being tertiary graduates. Regardless of level education, there is an interesting development coming into the industry now. A combination of Vocational/ technical/ secondary and tertiary level graduates are investing in the industry. There is a great expectation that this development will bring dynamism in the industry. Given the level of education, managerial competencies are most likely to be displayed in the industry.

Employment in the Printing Industry

According to information provided by (Nyadu-Addo, 2002) employment in the printing industry in Ghana varies along factors such as the time of establishment; start-up and present condition, financial strength of the owner, type of machines in use, qualification of employees and the type of jobs to be printed. However the researcher intends to talk about employment at both the start-up and present stage to assess the employee turnover and retention. Employment at the initial stages of start-up is not intense. (Nyadu-Addo,2002) states that 88% of press houses could employ at most nine workers the start-up stage with 22% of press houses could employ at most twenty workers. He underscores that this is a recent development and not common in the industry. Full-time employment with in press houses are also seen as something common in the industry. He observed that at the start-up stage, 85.7% of press houses employed full-time workers of at most eight, and 36.7% of at most four. The highest again could employ as much as 20 workers which form 1.7% part, while 20% employed two workers. The trend is as a result of the huge capital base. The situation at the present stage is quite different from the start-up but the difference is not huge. He states that 81.7% of press houses now have workers of at most twenty, whilst the remainder employs workers over twenty-five. With full-time employment at the present stage, 81.7% of press houses employed at most twenty workers and 50% employed at most ten workers. 10% employed at most five workers and 3.3% employed two workers. The employment situation shows that mostly there are full time employees in the industry. Majority of employees in the sector receive salary higher than the official minimum wage. Most employees enjoyed services such as social security, medical service and regular salaries with complementary yearly bonus. Employee satisfaction might be appreciable. Therefore employees are most likely to stay on the job for quite a long time. This gives the indication that employee turnover in the industry will be quite great. Employees are therefore open to the exposure of experience in the field in which they work. Given available machinery, they stand the chance of building on their area of expertise. Given the situation of the employees, the entrepreneur is informed about the competencies that will be required to lead and organize his employees. In his bid to satisfy and retain good employees, he should be able to demonstrate leadership qualities.

Finance in the Printing Industry

The Printing industry is already a heavily invested area. This is mostly due to the heavy machinery required for operation. Finance is in no doubt needed greatly at the start-up and during the stages of expansion. Investment in the industry is mainly financed by personal savings and loans from banks. Other sources of investment capital are financed through family and friends. As indicated by (Nyadu-Addo, 2002), most presses were established as a result of the accumulation of capital after working overseas before setting up in Ghana. He indicates that 95% of press houses interviewed financed started operations by their personal savings. Financing printing presses through personal savings leaves the entrepreneur no other choice than to seek to efficiently manage resources at his disposal to have good performance. Only 3.4% obtained bank loans. In any case the socio-cultural environment also allows for funding through family and friends. There is however a changing trend in the financial sector in general. Most financial institutions have gone a step further to assist most small and medium-sized enterprises. Below is a table showing the commitment of financial institution to providing loans to SMEs in general in the country.

Table 1. Loan Programme Schemes for SMEs in Ghana




Amount Available







General Remarks

SME Financing


The Trust Bank

USD 2.5M




Base rate


Available to SMEs with maximum employee size of 30 with Total Assets

(Excluding land and building) equivalent to USD 100,000. Used for expansions and working capital finance

SME Financing Scheme


The Trust Bank

USD 2.5M




Base rate


Available to SMEs with maximum employee size of 60 with Total Assets

(Excluding land and building) equivalent to USD 200,000. Used for expansions and working capital finance

Source: extracted from Mensah, Sam, A review of SME financing schemes in Ghana, Presented at the UNIDO Regional Workshop of Financing Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, Accra, Ghana, 15-16 March 2004.

The issue of finance puts to test the managerial and strategic qualities of the entrepreneur. His ability to use finance in the industry to establish both short and long-term goals are tested whilst he goes about operations. As such certain level of commitment is needed to ensure that he keeps to long term goals and that brings out the commitment qualities in him as well.

Technology Use in the Industry

There is an ever-changing technology in the realms of the global printing industry. In fact predicting the future of the technology becomes ever more difficult as development follows development in an ever fast race of supremacy (Cafe Royal, London, 27/28th April 1988). The printing world is full of variant technology and this has gradually crept into the Ghanaian subsector. These technologies include lithography, rotogravure, flexography, screen, letter-press, and digital technologies including inkjet and electro-photography. The industry uses these printing technologies for printing books, magazine, newspapers, business documents, catalogs, form, etc. (Chea, 2008). Although not very strong, some press owners have managed to update their printing machinery. New Image Transfer Technology (NITT) in partnership with Technova, AGFA and Epson has introduced into the Ghanaian printing market the new Inkjet Computer-to-Plate system. Such development makes entrepreneurs who invest in the field to be more competitive both locally and globally. The use of computers in printing houses has been on the ascendancy. (Nyadu-Addo, 2002) indicates in his research that 85% of most printing presses use new computers. Chances are that most presses would have presently undergone changes of using quite complex printing softwares due to the changing technology. Some prevalent printing machines in Ghana include; Offset, GTO, Kord 64, Sord, Speedmaster and Roland. These could print from one-colour to five-colour works. There are also cutting, stitching, folding and sewing machines.

With the different technologies available, the entrepreneur should in the position to apply the right technology to suit a particular job. His technology competencies that would be made manifest by the managerial qualities he possess. It is here that the entrepreneur with technical knowledge use the available existing technology and other resources at his disposal to provide services that will make him edge over the competitor by introducing newness in his service delivery approach.

The Market for the Printing Industry

The general populace of Ghana remains the major market for the printing industry. The government, schools, churches, publishers, private corporate firms as well as all other SMEs provide market for the printing industry. More or less, the printing houses come in contact with these customers either by soliciting or customers approach themselves. When soliciting for jobs, marketing strategies such as personal contacts, advertisements and agents are used to secure jobs. The government also provides jobs by opening tenders through the print media. In all cases the opportunities for gaining a market share depends on the entrepreneur. He should be able to generate good information from among customers and build on these to respond favourably to trends in customer needs. In winning contracts or jobs to sustain his venture, he should be able to create good networks and form affiliations with clients he wants to assign with. His inability to do such may render his firm performance unsatisfactory and that could render him no means of sustaining the business.

Entrepreneurial competences and performance

Competence is the combination of skills, attitude and behaviour which leads to an individual being able to perform a certain task to a given level. This level to which the individual will reach measures the performance. Competencies define how oriented the entrepreneur is. Entrepreneurial orientation refers to a firm's strategic orientation, acquiring specific entrepreneurial aspects of decision-making styles, practices, and methods (Lumpkin & Dess, 1996). Firms with entrepreneurial orientation have the capabilities to discover and exploit new market opportunities (Barringer & Bluedorn, 1999; Lee, Lee, & Pennings, 2001; Wiklund & Shepherd, 2003) and these might depend on firm's innovativeness, risk-taking, proactiveness, competitive aggressiveness, and autonomy. Studies by (Covin & Slevin, 1991; Dess, Lumpkin & Covin, 1997; Lumpkin & Dess, 1996; Zahra & Covin, 1995) has shown that entrepreneurial orientation has significant effect on firm performance but these do not remain the only characteristics relating to firm performance. Entrepreneurial characteristics are also approached from a number of categories in literature. One category of these characteristics is gender (Changanti and Parasuraman, 1996) ethnic (Cooper, Dunkelberg and Woo, 1988) and parental background (Cooper and Dunkelberg, 1987).

Another category of characteristics focus on personal traits of which some of the most mentioned traits include perseverance, energy, diligence, resourcefulness, creativity, foresight, initiative, versatility, intelligence and perceptiveness (see for instance McClelland, 1987 and Ciavarella, 2004). These characteristics will by any means affect the start-up and performance of the enterprise.

Another category of characteristics are present in competences which (Man et al, 2002) address as key to the firm performance. These competences are distinguished as Opportunity competences, Organising competences, Relationship competences, Strategic competences, Commitment competences and Conceptual competences. (Ritter and Gemünden, 2004) add technological competences as one that can reasonably influence performance through innovative success.

(Barkham, 1994; Tan and Tay, 1995) lists out human capital factors such educational level, work experience, training and skills as another category of characteristics of the entrepreneur. These characteristics determine whether an entrepreneur possesses the appropriate abilities, optimistic nature, innovativeness, visionary capabilities and leadership qualities (Thi, 2009). All these characteristics have either a direct or indirect impact of the performance of the SME.

If the attention is drawn as from here to define what performance is, it is a process or manner of functioning or operating. In our case performance will be the process or manner in which a firm operates to survive. A firm's performance is largely affected by so many factors. As suggested by (Miller, 1983) and (Lumpkin and Dess, 2001), performance depends on the entrepreneur's orientation and (Man et al, 2002) reveal that a firm's performance is not only affected by competencies but by factors such as organisational capabilities and competitive scope. Employee mobility between competitors and co-operators (Somaya et al, 2007), firm's resources, capabilities, and business strategies are also thought to impact performance (Grant 1991; Mahoney and Pandian 1992). According to (Chandler and Hanks, 1993) the attractiveness of the market can also impact on firm performance. Logically, the choice of business sector will also have a significant impact on the performance of firm. The external environment, in which the firm operates, will also influence the performance of the firm. As (Lumpkin and Dess, 2001) puts it, environmental munificence, dynamism and hostility affect the relationship between entrepreneurial orientation and performance. In measuring performance, a business organization could do so using the financial and non-financial measures (Chong, 2008). The financial measures could include revenue, cash flow, return on assets, return on equity (Haber & Reichel, 2005) while the non-financial measures could focus on issues pertaining to customers' satisfaction and customers' referral rates, delivery time, waiting time and employees' turnover (Chong, 2008). Performance assessment also requires the consideration of output and input perspectives. Output measures reflect the firm's key goals and emphasize profitability and final results, whereas input measures focus on tasks and activities that are instrumental in reaching the end results (Aggarwal & Gupta, 2006; Clark, 1999).

Market Orientation

In literature the definition of market orientation varies in many ways. Whilst others have defined the theme based on customer focus, others have also defined based on coordinated marketing and profitability. But being market oriented requires the entrepreneur to be one who can generate intelligence about the market opportunity and disseminate this intelligence among his employees and should be responsive to the execution of the intelligence developed. Therefore the working definition will incorporate the three focal ideas of (Kohli et al, 1993) by saying "it refers to the organizationwide generation of market intelligence pertaining to current and future needs of customers, dissemination of intelligence within the organization, and the responsiveness to it."

Generating marketing intelligence involves the assessment of customer needs and the factors that influence the development and refinement of those needs. Customer needs remains the main focus of market orientation but other factors that may affect customer needs have been described as government regulation, technology, competitors and other environmental forces (Kohli et al, 1990). The essence of generating intelligence further requires another activity- to disseminate this generated intelligence. Dissemination of intelligence is the flow of generated intelligence both within and between departments (Daft and Steers, 1985) and provides the opportunity to liaise people and departments to attain firm's goals. The direction of flow of intelligence depends on where it is generated. The marketing department or other departments could offer such, but regardless of department, the effectiveness of dissemination brings all departments on board as the firm seeks its goals. Firm needs to be active by responding to the market needs. That is to say, intelligence generation and dissemination are finally meaningful if firm responds to market needs. Market response here does not only consider the work of the marketing department, all departments in a market-orientated need to be involved. (Kohli et al,1990) in their field findings about market orientation in firms shows that responsiveness to market intelligence takes the form of selecting target markets, designing and offering products/services that cater to their current and anticipated needs, and producing, distributing, and promoting the products in a way that elicits favourable end-customer response. That remains the duty of the entrepreneur and his team in a firm. The effort of target market selection, producing and defining services needs the competencies of the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur/manager who seeks to successfully operate his business should be able to put to use the competencies he has acquired and translate them into a functional activity which considers market orientation as also a potential factor to good business performance. On his part, he should be able to use his competencies to generate information about the market and should favourably respond to the information generated.


In its right sense, innovation has mostly been defined as generation or realisation a new idea, putting this idea into reality as a product or service and the implementation and marketing this idea. The term innovation is much likely to connote doing something technical but (Freel, 2005) points out that "innovation is thought to be more than a simply technical phenomenon", a mere simple idea generated, that can be put into reality for extensive use fits well into the definition of innovation. If Schumpeter's concept of innovation is to be considered, innovation is likely to require a good managerial competency due to the "introduction of new goods (…), new methods of production (…), the opening of new markets (…), the conquest of new sources of supply (…) and the carrying out of a new organization of any industry". In our context an entrepreneur seeking to improve his business performance should be able to adapt the concepts of innovation in his firm. These ideas as already been mentioned, should not necessarily be extremely technical, they can take different aspects such as redefining the process of service delivery or by actively involving the customer in the service production. An update of technology could also be a warrant to achieve the status of innovation. However, the mindset of innovation reasonably appeals to the application of competencies. An entrepreneur/manager who wishes to be innovative enough should be able to exhibit strong managerial qualities. The nature of his innovation may stem from how he combines his entrepreneurial competencies and the particular market he seeks to address.

Notions of entrepreneurial characteristics, performance assessment, market orientation and innovation have taken into the literature reviewed, however, not all the afore-mentioned can be undertaken in this study, because of how variants shapes the idea of entrepreneurial competencies, market orientation, innovation and firm performance could take. Aspects of the reviewed literature will be taken and a structural and theoretical framework for the research will be drawn to carry on in this research.

Theoretical Framework

This research adapts the framework developed by Thomas W.Y.Man, Theresa Lau and K.F.Chan in their study The competitiveness of small and medium enterprises; A conceptualization with focus on entrepreneurial competences.

Fig.3. A multi-dimensional construct of SME competitiveness

Source: Model of (Man et al, 2002), The competitiveness of small and medium enterprises: A conceptualization with focus on entrepreneurial competences.

The research by (Man et al, 2002) focussed on various dimensions that could influence the performance of a firm. These are described as entrepreneurial competences (process dimension), competitive scope (potential external dimension), organizational capabilities (potential internal dimension) and firm performance (performance dimension). According to the construct of the framework, entrepreneurial competences are seen as central because it is that which affect competitive scope and organizational capabilities of the firm which finally determines the performance. But the research will focus on the process and the potential external dimension of the model. But the external dimension will replaced both Competitive Scope and Organizational Capabilities with market orientation and innovation. Taking a quite different approach from Man et al the writer argues that entrepreneurial competencies need to be translated into functions and therefore chooses to translate them into how they can affect market orientation and innovation which will in turn also affect firm performance.

Fig.4 The model of relationship between entrepreneurial competencies, market orientation, Innovation and firm performance

Source: Own Construct.

Table 2 Entrepreneurial competencies, their behavioural focus and preliminary elements.

Entrepreneurial competencies

Behavioral focus

Preliminary Elements



Competencies related to recognizing market opportunities through means

Opportunity recognition

Opportunity seeking

Opportunity development



Competencies related to the organization of different internal and external human, physical, financial and technological resources




Leading and delegation



Competencies related to person to person or individual-to-group-based interactions


Relationship building




Competencies related to setting, evaluating and implementing the strategies of the firm.


Strategic thinking

Goal setting



Competencies that drive the entrepreneur to move ahead with the business


Having drive and taking initiative

Conceptual competencies

Competencies related to different conceptual abilities which reflected in the behaviour of the entrepreneur



Problem solving and decision making


Risk taking

Managing time

Copied from (Thi, 2009)

Opportunity competencies and firm performance

The actions of the entrepreneur( press owner/manager) are affected by the environment and the influences from the environment show as attractiveness of market, perceived market or industry growth, demands for new products or services, the demand for technological opportunity, and the heterogeneity in the market (Man, 2002). It is also worth mentioning that in as much as the actions of the entrepreneur are affected by the environment; his actions also contribute to the dynamism of the environment. That is to say, in order that he reacts favourably within the environment he operates, he should possess opportunity competencies to be able identify in the market what will positively affect his performance. In identifying what can positively affect his performance through entrepreneurial competences, it will be assumed that a relationship exist between opportunity competences and firm performance. Out of these grounds, the researcher draws the hypothesis below.

Hypothesis 1a: Opportunity competencies are positively related to firm performance.

Organizing competencies and firm performance

In his bid to perform creditably as an entrepreneur, the press owner /manager should possess or develop knowledge, skills and capabilities which remain crucial to the success of the firm. This task of creating organizational capabilities mainly call for the planning, organizing, and controlling of marketing, human and financial resources, and the monitoring of the whole operation towards efficiency and productivity. When he fulfils his tasks successfully by using the above mentioned factors, organizing competences would have been put to use. It is therefore assumed that the relationship between organizing competences and firm performance is positive. Hence the hypothesis below:

Hypothesis 1b: Organizing competences are positively related to firm performance.

Relationship competencies and firm performance

In discovering opportunities that exist in the business environment, the press owner/manager should be able to relate well with all stakeholders in the industry and also create business contacts. This could be done by establishing networks which could finally lead to unveiling the opportunities that were hitherto hidden beyond the press owner/manager's sight, but the ability to relate and create networks requires the entrepreneur to possess relationship competencies. As such, it is believed that relationship competencies are critical to firm performance. Therefore the researcher proposes the third hypothesis

Hypothesis 1c: Relationship competencies are positively related to firm performance

Strategic competencies

According to common logic, strategic planning relates well to firm performance. The company's behaviour in the market, including policies, plans and procedures (Ritter and Gemüden, 2004) falls within the authority of the entrepreneur. The press owner/manager should be goal-oriented and set direction for the company in which he operates. His desire to see an improved firm in the future calls for competencies no other than strategic ones. Strategic competencies call for abilities and skills that will help achieve the long-term results of the firm. Accordingly, the following hypothesis is proposed

Hypothesis 1d: Strategic competences are positively related to firm performance

Commitment competencies

The achievement of long term goals needs strategic competencies, and these goals need to be strictly adhered to if long term goals are desired. The study by (Kuratko et al, 1997) reveals that goal setting and motivation is required not only in the prelaunch or early stages of a business start-up, but also in its continuation. In our competency approach, an entrepreneur also needs to possess strong commitment competencies, equipping him with the necessary drive and initiative to sustain his efforts.

The researcher therefore proposes that

Hypothesis 1e: Commitment competencies are positively related to firm performance

Conceptual competencies

This competency area arguably remains key to competencies that entrepreneur need to perform successfully. In problem analysis, conceptual thinking, vision, judgement, network, and opportunity identification, the conceptual competencies remain central. As such if applied appropriately, could positively influence the performance of the firm. However if not appropriately applied, could negatively influence the performance of the firm. Therefore the researcher makes a proposition;

Hypothesis 1f: Conceptual competencies are positively related to firm performance

Entrepreneurial competencies, market orientation and innovation

Entrepreneurial competencies always remain internal. That means they have to be exhibited by the entrepreneurial by way of transferring it into activity such as market orientation and innovation. The level of competencies determines the extent of market orientation and innovation. That is to say, competencies shown by the entrepreneur could either be positively or negatively related to market orientation and innovation. If both positive and negative assumptions are included in this research, the clarity of information might not be understandable. Therefore the researcher chooses that:

Hypothesis 2: Entrepreneurial competences are positively related to Market Orientation.

Hypothesis 3: Entrepreneurial competencies are positively related to innovation.

Market Orientation and Firm performance.

(Kohli et al, 1990) posits that market orientation facilitates clarity of focus and vision in an organization's strategy. It appears to provide a unifying focus for the efforts and projects within the projects of individual and departments within the organization, thereby fostering good performance and these could be seen indicators such as Return on Investment, profits, sales volume and growth among others. Therefore applying in the context of the printing industry, the researcher proposes that;

Hypothesis 4: Market orientation is positively related to business performance

Innovation and firm performance

The introduction of newness or some form of change in any venture have the tendency to improve the performance, provided the introduced idea fits in the organization at the time it is been introduced and that there are the resources to contain this new idea. The ability to reconfigure resources is a considerable advantage to the firm in question. As such, from a dynamic capabilities perspective, the entrepreneur/manager can benefit greatly from innovation. If innovation is seen in this way then the chances of assisting to achieve a good performance could be justified. There the researcher proposes that innovation.

Hypothesis 5: Innovation is positively related to business performance.

It will also be added here that strong entrepreneurial competencies have the tendency to make the focus on innovation easier.

It is also of utmost importance to seek information about the descriptive nature of the press owners/managers in the industry. This will help understand their level of competencies. Characteristics such as age, gender, level of education, experience, number of employees and age of enterprise.

Measuring firm performance

In our context, firm performance is one of the dimensions of realising as to what factors of entrepreneurial competencies, market orientation and innovation have been applied. In works by (Buckley et al, 1988), (Kravis and Lipsey, 1992), (O'Farrell and Hitchens, 1993), (Feurer and Chaharbaghi, 1994), there are some critical findings in performance measures for competitiveness. Competitiveness performance is usually measured by the business volume (including various profitability measures, sales, and outputs), efficiency (productivity, return on equity, net profit on turnover), business growth, and sustainable growth (duration, percentage of total revenues dedicated to independent research and development). Firm performance has mostly been measured with the focus dwelling on financial measures. Literature has revealed that "financial measures are objective, simple and easy to understand and compute, but in most cases, they suffer from being historical and are not readily available in the public domain. Inaccessibility, confidentiality (Covin and Slevin, 1989), completeness (Sapienza and Grimm 1997), accuracy (Brush and Wanderwerf 1992) and timeliness (Sapienza, Smith, and Gannon 1988) of data make comparisons among the sectors challenging and futile. Further, profits are subject to manipulations and interpretations". But non-financial indicators are seen subjective in nature and even regarded as supplements to financial ones. (Kunkel and Hofer, 1993; Begley and Boyd, 1987; Sandberg and Hofer, 1987). To avoid subjectivity, financial indicators will be used to measure business performance. The financial indicators to be used will dwell on

Return on shareholder equity

Gross profit margin

Net profit from operations

Return on investment