Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Helle Neergaard and Claire Leitch
Critical incident technique: some conclusions
Despite its relatively long history the critical incident technique has not been widely adopted in entrepreneurship. However, as all of the three chapters in this section demonstrate well, the qualitative variant of the technique can potentially bring additional insights to the complex phenomena comprising entrepreneurship. In particular, increased knowledge and appreciation of the scope of this technique can go some way to addressing many commentators’ concerns with the relative paucity of good quality empirical research into entrepreneurial activity: ‘the field is in desperate need of more and better empirical studies’ (Deeds 2014: 10). The technique is flexible, which can be both a strength and a limitation. Its strength lies in its ability to provide access to intangible issues and present complex textual descriptions of how people experience the research issue under consideration. As Chell emphasizes, it exposes actions, attitudes feelings and orientations to situations. This, she believes, makes it more powerful than a conventional qualitative interview in that it exposes the assumptions and critical events which have shaped behaviours and actions as well as the thoughts and decisions which underpinned them. This perspective alleviates Leitch and Hill’s concern that through incomplete understanding of the technique it may inadvertently be employed as a generic qualitative interview. Thus, they present a guiding framework to ensure that scholars remain as close as possible to Flanagan’s (1954) guiding principles.
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