The Entrepreneurship Research Challenge
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The Entrepreneurship Research Challenge

Per Davidsson

Entrepreneurship is an emerging, dynamic and to a considerable extent, unpredictable phenomenon. Thus, it makes for a challenging research subject. In this book, one of the most experienced empiricists in this field has collected some of his most important ideas on how improved conceptualization and research design can make this challenge more manageable.
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Chapter 2: The Domain of Entrepreneurship Research: Some Suggestions

Per Davidsson


* DEVELOPMENT – AND LACK THEREOF – IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP RESEARCH There is progress in entrepreneurship research. Important works in entrepreneurship increasingly appear in highly-respected mainstream journals (see Busenitz et al., 2003; Davidsson et al., 2001). There is conceptual development that attracts attention (for example, Shane & Venkataraman, 2000) and handbooks are compiled, providing the field with more of a common body of knowledge (Acs & Audretsch, 2003a; Westhead & Wright, 2000; Shane, 2000a). Further, there is evidence of methodological improvement (Chandler & Lyon, 2001) and accumulation of meaningful findings on various levels of analysis (Davidsson & Wiklund, 2001). Moreover, due to time lags in publication the reported improvements are likely to be underestimated. This author’s experience as organizer, reviewer and participant in core entrepreneurship conferences on both sides of the Atlantic (for example, Babson; RENT) suggests that much of the lower end of the quality distribution has either disappeared from the submissions or is screened out in the review process. Much more than used to be the case a few years back, we find among the presented papers research that is truly theory-driven; research on the earliest stages of business development, and research that employs methods suitable for causal inference, that is, experiments and longitudinal designs. This is not to deny that there is confusion, signs of identity crisis, or widespread frustration among entrepreneurship researchers because of a sense that the field of entrepreneurship research has not come ‘far enough, fast enough’ (Low, 2001, p. 17) or that we are ‘getting more pieces of the puzzle, but no...

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