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New Movements in Entrepreneurship

Edited by Chris Steyaert and Daniel Hjorth

At last, a book that focuses on trendsetting thinking and research in the field of entrepreneurship and sets an agenda for current and future movements in the field.
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Chapter 4: Connecting levels of analysis in entre-preneurship research: a focus on information processing, asymmetric knowledge and networks

G. Page West


Steyaert 01 chaps 9/5/03 10:56 Page 51 4. Connecting levels of analysis in entrepreneurship research: a focus on information processing, asymmetric knowledge and networks1 G. Page West III INTRODUCTION Though entrepreneurship research has grown dramatically over the last 20 years, the field of entrepreneurship continues to be viewed as a ‘multidisciplinary jigsaw’, characterized as a potpourri (Low, 2001) of accumulative fragmentalism (Harrison and Leitch, 1996; Ucbasaran, Westhead and Wright, 2001). The effect of this view is significant difficulty for entrepreneurship researchers seeking the academic legitimacy afforded by publication of their work in mainstream journals, and by promotion and tenure in their institutions (Busenitz, West III, Shepherd, Nelson, Chandler and Zacharakis, forthcoming). In large part, the cause of this view is that research has sought to examine aspects of the phenomenon at various levels of analysis (e.g. individual, group, firm, industry), and does so using different theoretical perspectives imported from other fields. The field is often ‘a meeting place for researchers from other fields’ where they ‘speak after one another, rather than to one another’ (Bruyat and Julien, 2001, p. 166). Lacking a unified ontology and epistemology of its own, it is thus difficult to examine cross-level relationships in entrepreneurship or generalize a finding at one level of analysis to other levels. Yet clearly this is needed if entrepreneurship theory seeks to achieve the sort of scope, parsimony, and generalizability (Bacharach, 1989) – and therefore the legitimacy (Pfeffer, 1993) – enjoyed by other fields through their base paradigms. Thus a frame is...

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