How Events Create Ventures and Ventures Create Entrepreneurs
Chapter 12: Conducting Research on the Entrepreneurial Experience
12. Conducting research on the entrepreneurial experience It is often recognized that entrepreneurship is to a great extent a form of art, a practice-oriented endeavor that requires a sensitive and committed engagement with a range of phenomena in the surrounding world. Still, much of the research and theory development favors large studies and positivist epistemology, where the liveliness of entrepreneurship tends to be suspended in favor of scientific rigor. (Henrik Berglund, 2007) INTRODUCTION George Berkeley (1685–1753) was an Irish clergyman and philosopher who famously wrote, “esse est percipi [to be is to be perceived].” Berkeley’s theory, called immaterialism or subjective idealism, stated that material objects do not exist except as ideas embedded in the minds of perceivers. While the specifics of Berkeley’s theory are not important to our present discussion, the reaction of Samuel Johnson, one of his contemporaries, to this theory is nevertheless illuminating. Johnson’s biographer writes: After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that everything in the universe is merely ideal. I observed that, though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, “I refute it thus.” (Boswell, 1953, p. 333) Researchers interested in the experience underlying entrepreneurship cannot help but think that Johnson won the debate,...
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