Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Susan M. Zgliczynski, PhD, Director; William P. Foster, EdD; Daryl G. Mitton, PhD


Delphi study, clusters, entrepreneurial leadership, Leadership studies, new ventures, success factors, troika, venture capitalists


Over a million new U.S. enterprises are formed each year. Virtually all the country's net new jobs come from these and other new ventures. Yet 60% of new ventures still fail within two years. The purpose of this study was to isolate the most dominant leadership success characteristics of a typical early stage, high-growth potential venture. Thus discovered, these factors could properly focus the enterprise's tactics on improving its probability of fulfilling its original success related objectives as well as enhancing new job creation and in turn, economic wealth. A Delphi Technique research methodology was employed. The advice and counsel of 25 senior U.S. venture capitalists was obtained by their participation on the Delphi expert panel. The subject base was industry focused through survey sponsorship by the American Electronics Association. Three Delphi rounds were used to obtain a consensus on the most important Entrepreneurial Leadership success factors. The 18 most dominant factors fell into three major clusters. To better understand the findings of this study, success enhancement was metaphorically associated with a troika, a Russian vehicle pulled by three horses of equal strength. Each horse represents a cluster of the success factors. The troika is being driven towards success by the visions and dreams of the founding entrepreneurs. The first cluster, THE LEAD ENTREPRENEUR, was highlighted by the panel's opinion that the venture leader must have a realistic, rather than egotistic, self concept and be intellectually honest in all dealings. Setting the venture's pace and possessing courage were additional factors. The next cluster, THE VENTURE TEAM, focused on the venture's internal environment. Factors included creating and maintaining an ethical business environment as well as stressing the importance of the lead entrepreneur and the venture team collaboratively blending their capabilities. The third cluster, THE EXTERNAL INFLUENCES, dealt with the venture team's relationship with its outside environment. The most important factor was the team's sensitivity to satisfying the needs of the venture's constituents with equal priorities to those of their own. A new definition of Entrepreneurial Leadership was proposed. Further investigations of other entrepreneurial leadership factors were suggested.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access