Historical Foundations of Entrepreneurship Research
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Historical Foundations of Entrepreneurship Research

Edited by Hans Landström and Franz T. Lohrke

This book historicizes entrepreneurship research, its primary thesis being ‘history matters’. Expert contributors discuss the field’s long history and explore whether it has developed a mature and comprehensive knowledge base. The intellectual roots of several important theories are then examined in depth because, as entrepreneurship research has become more theory driven, and scholars have borrowed theories from many different fields, it becomes increasingly important to understand their origin. Finally, the book demonstrates how economic history research (for example, the historical and institutional context of entrepreneurial behaviour) can contribute to our understanding of entrepreneurship.
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Chapter 1: History Matters in Entrepreneurship Research

Franz Lohrke and Hans Landström


Franz Lohrke and Hans Landström Entrepreneurship investigates how and why some individuals (or teams) identify opportunities, evaluate them as viable, and then decide to exploit them, whereas others do not, and, in turn, how these opportunities result in product, firm, industry and wealth creation (Brush et al., 2003; Shane and Venkataraman, 2000). In a period of ‘creative destruction’ in society, entrepreneurship as a research field emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, paralleled and reinforced by a host of external factors (e.g. government policy-makers) around the world that supported entrepreneurship. Along with these external factors functioning as a springboard for the growth of entrepreneurship research, several intra-scientific explanations could also be found. For example the field showed increasing opportunities for empirical research and, equally important, the research field offered great opportunities in terms of research funds, endowed chairs, and publication outlets. As a result, scholars from many different disciplines rushed into this promising field of research. Since its emergence in the 1970s and 1980s research on entrepreneurship has grown tremendously (Landström, 2005), with respect to the number of researchers, published articles, conferences, and journals focused on or opening up for entrepreneurial contributions. Indeed, the growth is obvious, irrespective of the measurements employed (Katz, 2003). We are often told that entrepreneurship is very young as a field of research, and that the field is highly ahistorical in character. The assumption underlying this statement is often that the pace of change in society today makes it necessary to constantly ‘re-formulate’ our...

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