Frontiers in European Entrepreneurship Research
Edited by Hans Landström, Hans Crijns, Eddy Laveren and David Smallbone
Chapter 2: Looking Back at 20 Years of Entrepreneurship Research: What Did We Learn?
Per Davidsson INTRODUCTION As one of the participants of the ﬁrst RENT conference in 1987, and one of those who have stayed in this ﬁeld of research, I was invited to deliver a keynote address at the 20th anniversary of RENT in November 2006. This short chapter is largely based on that keynote address. What follows are some personal and hopefully provocative, yet constructive, reﬂections on the development of the ﬁeld of entrepreneurship research with a particular eye to European contributions. Before proceeding I should emphasize that I have not undertaken a systematic review of the past 20 years of research, and despite the title I shall conﬁne my discussion about what we have learnt to a few fundamental ways in which research results have made us rethink the entrepreneurship phenomenon and how it can be researched. I shall then turn to the (remaining) challenges of entrepreneurship research and reﬂect on the past and future roles of European research in this ﬁeld. It should be pointed out that I am fully aware that my sometimes critical remarks are made by possibly the greatest of sinners or traitors in relation to the issues I raise. I have explored empirically more than I have developed or tested theory, and I have researched a broad range of entrepreneurship phenomena rather than building a tighter research stream. At the same time that I propagate designs that reduce heterogeneity problems, I lead a research project that has among the worst such problems...
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