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 8: What Entrepreneurship Research can do for Business and Policy Practice

Per Davidsson


* INTRODUCTION Academic research can rarely deliver fully developed solutions to any practical problem, and entrepreneurship research is no exception. In order to be useful, scholarly knowledge has to be combined with domain- and situation-specific practical knowledge. Hence, the application of researchbased knowledge to practical problems requires a joint effort. This holds true for direct communication in consulting and educational situations as well as indirect communication via scholarly articles, textbooks, or trade books. If the practitioner turns to the academic in the belief that she will get a clear and accurate answer to her particular questions she will be disappointed. If the academic believes she can give such answers without digging deeply into the particularities of the practitioner’s environment she is overly ambitious. The top half of Figure 8.1 illustrates this need for the blending of abstracted and specific knowledge in order to arrive at good solutions to practical problems. Academics and practitioners have different types of knowledge interests. The academic’s duty is to observe generalities and to make abstracted sense of ‘reality’ (whether ‘reality’ refers to something that is objectively existing or socially constructed). This is the upper right-hand box. When confronted with a particular problem, the academic’s role and habit is to ask: This is a special case of what? Looking for generalities and potential for abstracted sense-making, she almost as a reflex wants to classify the problem at hand into categories that she knows something about. So she asks: This is a special...

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