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 4: Strategies for Dealing with Heterogeneity in Entrepreneurship Research

Per Davidsson


* A FORMAL LOOK AT THE HETEROGENEITY PROBLEM Just like any other research, most entrepreneurship research deals at least in part with how one or more circumstances or factors (‘explanatory variables’) contribute to produce one or more outcomes (‘dependent variables’). The centrality and explicitness of focus on such causal relationships vary across research approaches and paradigms, but some ambition to suggest, unveil, or understand how various factors relate to entrepreneurial outcomes is usually represented in the research. For example, we may want to understand why individuals engage in a business start-up; what makes them persist in entrepreneurship through comeback after failure or becoming a habitual entrepreneur; or what makes them successful in entrepreneurial endeavors. Alternatively, we may be after explanations for firms’ differential growth and seek these in the resources, business model, and other characteristics of the firm itself as well as the conditions of its industry and its regional environment. In other cases still we may want to understand how the institutional conditions influence levels and content of entrepreneurial activity in a country. While also possibly embracing other aspects, all of these research interests include an element of causal relationships as displayed in Figure 4.1. As drawn, this figure depicts the simplest possible case (barring cases with fewer explanatory variables) where a number of explanatory variables (x) have direct and additive effects on the dependent variable (y). There is no indication that the explanatory variables are correlated with one another. Hence, as a starting assumption (to be...

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