Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series
Edited by Alan Carsrud and Malin Brännback
Chapter 9: Fighting a rearguard action? Reflections on the philosophy and practice of qualitative research in entrepreneurship
'What is entrepreneurship?' is a question of abiding interest to entrepreneurship scholars. In the apparent absence, to date, of agreement on a unique core of theoretical or methodological propositions, the answer to this question is most commonly to be found in elaborations of the subject matter (the topic of study) of the field, but this may create more problems than it resolves (Harrison and Leitch, 1996). This is evident from, for example, the recently agreed domain statement of the Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management, which defines entrepreneurship as '(a) the actors, actions, resources, environmental influences and outcomes associated with the emergence of entrepreneurial opportunities and/or new economic activities in multiple organizational contexts and (b) the characteristics, actions, and challenges of owner-managers and their businesses' (Academy of Management, August 2011; www.aomonline. org). While the breadth of this definition is permissive, in that it allows researchers to define entrepreneurship in a manner that fits their research (Brush et al., 2008; Davidsson et al., 2001), it also dissipates the focus of entrepreneurship research into a fragmented potpourri field (Gartner, 2001; Harrison and Leitch, 1996). In consequence, while the field has developed substantially over the past 25 years (Cornelius et al., 2006), there is no clear sense of progress (Aldrich, 1992; Aldrich and Baker, 1997; Brush et al., 2008) and it is still seeking legitimacy (Bruyat and Julian, 2001; Busenitz et al., 2003).
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