Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series
Edited by Alan Carsrud and Malin Brännback
Chapter 11: The practice approach and interactive research in entrepreneurship and small-scale venturing
Beginning at the turn of the millennium late Professor Erik Johnsen at the Center for Applied Management Studies (CAMS) at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) ran a fascinating project. As a pioneering leadership scholar in Scandinavia he asked retired executives in all three sectors constituting the Danish welfare economy - the private, the public and the non-profit/voluntary - to reflect upon their leadership practices. The project generated more than 30 books authored by more than 100 'senior researchers'. This legacy of reflected practice was condensed by Erik Johnsen into a few brief statements. Three of them are especially relevant beyond Denmark in the context of entrepreneurship and small-scale venturing: (1) leadership is an organic process; (2) hands-on operations are the focus; (3) like all Danes, their leaders unconsciously submit to the Lutheran interpretation of the Ten Commandments. The lessons from this unique Danish project are also relevant for general studies in entrepreneurship and small-scale venturing. Naturally, all sectors in society accommodate entrepreneurship (Berglund et al., 2013). Small-scale venturing dominates the business community and today it also appears in the public sector in Scandinavian welfare economies. The majority of social enterprises, staffed to a great extent by volunteers, are small organizations. It would certainly be exciting to copy the Johnsen project for such ventures. However, entrepreneurs are more interested in reporting what they have achieved than in how they did it and, furthermore, owner-managers of small firms practise paperless leadership.
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