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Chapter 43: On Field Research Methods for Theory Building and Testing
43 On ﬁeld research methods for theory building and testing Thierry Volery This chapter discusses the diﬀerent standpoints from which the entrepreneurship phenomenon can be analysed. Four main units of analysis are identiﬁed: the individual, the environment, the project and the newly created organization. Conducting research in an international environment is particularly challenging because of cultural, economic and technical diﬀerences which aﬀect the entrepreneurial process. This chapter further presents a typology of ﬁeld research methods and discusses their contribution to theory building and testing. The overall conclusion is that ﬁeld research methods will continue to be used heavily to develop entrepreneurship research. These conditions include a balanced research agenda, multifaceted research approaches and innovative data-gathering techniques. The chapter also recommends new methodological inputs from other academic disciplines that are more experienced with human interaction research. In recent years, the ﬁeld of entrepreneurship has experienced increased criticism, for several reasons. Firstly, the phenomenon of entrepreneurship has lacked a conceptual framework that explains and predicts a set of empirical phenomena. Much of this has stemmed from the absence of a broadly accepted deﬁnition of entrepreneurship. Secondly, and as a consequence, scholars in entrepreneurship have been at pains to explain how their ﬁeld diﬀers from others such as strategic management, small business management or economics. Thirdly, much of the criticism relates to the research methods used to investigate the phenomenon of entrepreneurship. The criticism spans researchers’ descriptive orientation, lack of conceptual adequacy, the commonsense nature of ﬁndings,...
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