What We Know and What We Need to Know
Edited by Alain Fayolle
Chapter 3: A history of entrepreneurship research
Entrepreneurship as an intellectual field has a long history - some pioneering contributions were published as far back as the eighteenth century. For a long time, entrepreneurship was regarded as a rather marginal research theme within mainstream disciplines such as economics and social sciences like psychology and sociology. The research was conducted by a few individual researchers within the respective disciplines. However, since the 1980s, entrepreneurship has evolved toward a field of research in its own right. Since the 'take off ' in the 1980s, entrepreneurship as a research field grew significantly in the 1990s, and during the last decade a 'search for maturation' within the field can be identified, including an increased understanding of entrepreneurship as a phenomenon. The first aim of this chapter is to give a historical review of the formation of entrepreneurship as an intellectual field. In this respect, it is important to bear in mind that history can be depicted from many different perspectives and that various aspects can be focused upon. I therefore wish to stress that this is my own subjective description of history, and I am well aware that there might be other historical foundations of entrepreneurship research. In addition, in the evolution of entrepreneurship research an increased theoretical focus can be identified (Brush et al., 2008; Tan et al., 2009).
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