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 5: Method Issues in the Study of Venture Start-up Processes

Per Davidsson


* INTRODUCTION It is increasingly agreed that the centre of gravity for entrepreneurship research should rest with the process of emergence. It is in particular three partly related strands, associated with three influential scholars that have led this development. First, Bill Gartner argued that entrepreneurship research ought to redirect interest from who the entrepreneur is to what he or she does in the process of firm emergence (Gartner, 1988, 1993, 2001). By so doing, entrepreneurship research would fill an important gap in organization theory, where the question of how organizations come into being has been a neglected issue. This perspective – that entrepreneurship is about the emergence of new organizations – has also been adopted by prominent sociologists (Aldrich, 1999; Thornton, 1999). Second, inspired by Austrian economics and by empirical work at the intersection of innovation and entrepreneurship, Sankaran Venkataraman (1997; compare Shane & Venkataraman, 2000; Van de Ven et al., 1989, 1999) has suggested that entrepreneurship is about the processes of discovery and exploitation of opportunities to create future goods and services. This perspective shares with Gartner the view that entrepreneurship is about emergence and that entrepreneurship research can make a distinct contribution to social science by applying this focus, because other fields have not done a particularly good job with it. However, Venkataraman’s interest is primarily directed at the new activity rather than the new organization (compare Shane & Venkataraman, 2000). Third, in parallel with these conceptual developments Paul Reynolds – originally with colleagues Nancy Carter and Timothy Stearns when they were all...

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