Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Management (DMgt)


School of Business

First Advisor

Justine Haigh

Second Advisor

Craig Johnson


The entrepreneurship aspects of private professional practice has been largely overlooked in both the literature and most graduate school professional programs, including acupuncture and oriental medicine (AOM). Because selfemployment in a private practice is the path for the majority of acupuncturists at the present time, they must exhibit entrepreneurial behaviors, and they receive little support from the profession. This research explored 12 new professionals’ experiences founding their private practices in depth using narrative methodology in order to gain insights to guide future research and interventions. Analysis focused on cognition/perception (C), social capital (S) and entrepreneurial learning (L) process aspects in the experiences of these professionals at the individual, community/profession, and larger society levels using Salzer’s (1998) and Rappaport’s (1994) conception of socializing influences as lenses. All three factors appear to be important to entrepreneurship in a professional context, and they interact with each other on multiple levels. As to Cognition/Perception (C), the study found that those embracing entrepreneurship aspects of practice had enhanced success, while those resisting it experienced difficulty until their perceptions changed. Thus, findings supported Hofer and Sandberg’s (1987) contention that entrepreneurship can be learned. As to Social Capital (S), those whose focus is inward and engagement is primarily within the profession experienced isolation and difficulty to a greater degree, while those who engaged the larger society and built cross-profession networks found their connections more satisfying and helpful. Those who adopted an outward-looking, society-focused, transformational vision for their practice seemed to enjoy the most business success, professional development and satisfaction. As to Entrepreneurial learning (L), Daley’s (1999) novice-toexpert professional development model was adapted to describe mutuallyreinforcing, interactive professional and business learning trajectories. Those engaging in experiential learning and reflective behaviors reported increased levels of both business and professional development. Participants provided a rich trove of insights based upon their experiences that may be helpful to new professionals starting private practices, including seeking a business mentor rather than one from the profession at first, engaging the larger society with a transformational healthcare vision, locating in an underserved area and removing cultural barriers as important practices. Recommendations for future research and suggested interventions for improving experience and outcomes for new professionals are offered.