Handbook of Research Methods on Social Entrepreneurship

Handbook of Research Methods on Social Entrepreneurship

Elgar original reference

Edited by Richard Seymour

Defining ‘social entrepreneurship’ has in the past proved problematic, and debate continues concerning what it does and does not entail and encompass. This unique book frames the debates surrounding the phenomenon and argues that many of the difficulties relating to the study of social entrepreneurship are rooted in methodological issues. Highlighting these issues, the book sets out ideas and implications for researchers using alternative methodologies.

Chapter 5: Bounding Research Settings

K. Kumar and Jarrod Ormiston

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, research methods in business and management, social entrepreneurship, development studies, development economics, social entrepreneurship, economics and finance, development economics, politics and public policy, social entrepreneurship, research methods, research methods in business and management


K. Kumar and Jarrod Ormiston Case study research focuses on ‘understanding the dynamics present within single settings’ (Eisenhardt, 1989, p. 533) and can involve either single or multiple cases. Case studies can be employed retrospectively or prospectively, and utilise quantitative or qualitative data or both (Zucker, 2009). As a research strategy, case study research is appropriate when the phenomenon has been underexplored or when dominant theoretical discourse requires re-evaluation (Ghauri, 2004). As noted by Yin (2003, p. 1): ‘case studies are the preferred strategy when “how” or “why” questions are being posed, when the investigator has little control over events and when the focus is on a contemporary phenomenon within some real-life context’. The strategy should therefore be considered appropriate when ‘thick description’ is required to elucidate meaning (Lincoln and Guba, 2002). The case study has much to offer the nascent field of social entrepreneurship given the current stage of theoretical underdevelopment. Additionally the complex nature of social entrepreneurship and the dynamic environments in which it takes place raises the importance of rich description and contextual depth, both of which are qualities of case study research. The flexibility and iterative nature inherent in case study research supports the study of social phenomena such as social entrepreneurship that are emerging outside of the dominant organisational frameworks. This chapter provides researchers with the basics for using case studies as a research strategy. The first part of this chapter will present a brief overview of case study literature and insights from specialists in...

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