Rome is not built in one day: Entrepreneurial skill development process

The skill development process (Fischer, 1980) provides a framework for understanding how entrepreneurs can be assisted in their businesses. A single skill passes through different levels during its development. A person who acts independently at the highest level of performance uses a functional level of skill. When a person gets support in the form of expert presence, advice, and clues, the person uses their optimal level of skill. When the person actually performs along with an expert, the level of performance can expand further; this is called a “scaffolding level of skill.” These three levels of skill are representative of the increasing complexity of skills and corresponding performance. The theory of skill development explains this overall process of scaffolding: “the level of task performance is extended several steps upward because psychological control of the activity is shared with an expert” (Fischer & Bidell, 2005, p. 29).

When people build a new skill, there is a need for constant repetition in a pattern of construction and reconstruction (Fischer & Bidell, 2005). With a new task, people first operate on a low level of skill, and then they gradually build up to a new skill by rebuilding it with variations. In the situation of environmental change, the new skill falls down to its basic level and then it rebuilds in the new context. People adapt and rebuild a skill each time in different ways. This slow process of skill-building maintains a zigzag pattern called “scalloping.” At the end of this process, the new skill emerges and sustains across a set of variations in the context (Fischer & Bidell, 2005)


Kutzhanova, N., Lyons, T. S., & Lichtenstein, G. A. (2009). Skill-based development of entrepreneurs and the role of personal and peer group coaching in enterprise development. Economic Development Quarterly23(3), 193-210.

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By Dr. Jingjing Lin

Behaviorist; Researcher; Education and Training Consultant. Keen on behavioral psychology and its application to teaching and learning. Integrate people, resources, and training in the unit "community", and cultivate the development of the community of practice locally is a way out to better entrepreneurial activities and success in the economy. Yes, that is what I believe.

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