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 3: The Types and Contextual Fit of Entrepreneurial Processes

Per Davidsson


3. The types and contextual fit of entrepreneurial processes* THE NEED FOR A PROCESS PERSPECTIVE ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION Early entrepreneurship research devoted almost all its attention to the entrepreneur. The implicit or explicit assumption underlying this research was that the explanation for entrepreneurial behavior and success was to be found in the unique characteristics of the individuals who undertook such endeavors (Brockhaus, 1982; Carland et al., 1988; Delmar, 2000; Stanworth et al., 1989). This line of research, had it been successful, held little promise for entrepreneurship education. The best one could hope for was perhaps a selection mechanism for advising students: ‘You’re the right stuff; good for you!’ or ‘Sorry, I think you should try some other career instead.’ However, while some valid generalizations can be made concerning the average psychological and socio-demographic characteristics of business founders compared to other groups, the main conclusion of this research is that on the whole, business founders seem to be as heterogeneous as any other group of people. It is not possible to profile the ‘typical’ entrepreneur. No psychological or sociological characteristics have been found that predict with high accuracy that someone will become an entrepreneur or excel at entrepreneurship. Likewise, no characteristics have been distilled that definitely exclude people from a successful entrepreneurial career. For two different reasons this is actually a very positive result for entrepreneurship education. First, the fact that entrepreneurial tendencies are not inborn suggests that the idea of trying to teach entrepreneurship...

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