Elements of Entrepreneurial Expertise
New Horizons in Entrepreneurship series
Chapter 3: Interpreting What I Found
In interpreting the results of the empirical analyses and drawing useful conclusions, we can use one of two philosophical approaches: a strict positivist stance, which seeks rigorous tests of the theory; or a more radical pragmatist rethinking of what we think we know about entrepreneurship. My empiricism, as I have earlier confessed, began more with Carnap than Popper, but my theoretical journey, as I shall elaborate here, became more pragmatist than positivist. This does not preclude ongoing empirical work from drawing upon both perspectives. Choice of perspective itself is a design decision for each project rather than an a priori ideology. This chapter discusses limitations and ongoing work from a positivist perspective before embarking upon a pragmatist interpretation of the results. 3.1 FROM A POSITIVIST PERSPECTIVE The primary problem with the study from the point of view of positivist rigor is the lack of a control group. At the time of designing the original study, it was not clear what group to use. I considered three possible groups: 1. 2. 3. Unsuccessful entrepreneurs Experts in areas other than entrepreneurship Novice entrepreneurs. Unsuccessful Entrepreneurs 3.1.1 Using unsuccessful entrepreneurs as a control group assumes that expertise guarantees or is congruent with success. As I explained in Chapter 1, this is simply untenable. Moreover, classifying entrepreneurs as successes and failures is a hazardous undertaking. Even classifying speciﬁc ﬁrms as successes or failures is not always an easy task. Entrepreneurs who have founded successful ﬁrms may later start ventures that fail. And vice...
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