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 10: The Challenge for Researchers

Aaron F. McKenny, Jeremy C. Short and G. Tyge Payne

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


Aaron F. McKenny, Jeremy C. Short and G. Tyge Payne Social entrepreneurship, with its focus on the creation of new value with an emphasis on solving social problems, has been of increasing academic interest in the last 20 years (Austin et al., 2006; Short et al., 2009b). Unfortunately, the rigour and diversity of research methods used in social entrepreneurship research remain in an embryonic state compared to more established fields such as entrepreneurship and strategic management (Short et al., 2009). Research in social entrepreneurship, to date, has been generally associated with a number of empirical challenges that parallel the growing pains in the development of the strategic management and entrepreneurship fields. A recent study of the social entrepreneurship literature indicates that only 8 percent of empirical articles used formal propositions or hypotheses and over 60 percent used a case-based approach (Short et al., 2009b). An early review of research methods in the entrepreneurship literature yielded similar findings, causing the research community to call for more emphasis on hypothesis testing and more sophisticated analyses (Low and MacMillan, 1988). Over 20 years later, the entrepreneurship literature has made marked improvements, but still lags behind that of the strategic management and organizational behavior peer fields in terms of methodological sophistication (Dean et al., 2007; Short et al., 2010b). If social entrepreneurship research progresses at a similar rate, these studies indicate that social entrepreneurship research is approximately 40 years behind strategic management and organizational behavior. Given the inherent difficulty of publishing in top-tier research...

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