Handbook of Research Methods on Social Entrepreneurship
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Handbook of Research Methods on Social Entrepreneurship

Edited by Richard Seymour

Defining ‘social entrepreneurship’ has in the past proved problematic, and debate continues concerning what it does and does not entail and encompass. This unique book frames the debates surrounding the phenomenon and argues that many of the difficulties relating to the study of social entrepreneurship are rooted in methodological issues. Highlighting these issues, the book sets out ideas and implications for researchers using alternative methodologies.
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Chapter 3: Listening to Narratives

Chris Steyaert and Michel Bachmann


Chris Steyaert and Michel Bachmann The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in. (Goddard, 1965) 3.1 AND SO IT COULD START: AN INTRODUCTION In this chapter, we will discuss various ways in which narrative approaches can be applied to research in social entrepreneurship. Though narrative approaches have been developed in the humanities and social sciences (Phelan and Rabinowitz, 2005), they have only more recently been applied in entrepreneurship studies where their possibilities have increasingly been acknowledged (Hjorth and Steyaert, 2004) and have even been considered ‘a new path to the waterfall’ (Gartner, 2010a). In the field of social entrepreneurship research, narrative approaches have not yet been exploited as a viable way to study and analyze the phenomenon. Many of the motives to apply narrative approaches to social entrepreneurship research are similar to those for studying entrepreneurship ‘in general’ (Steyaert and Bouwen, 1997; Gartner, 2010a), yet we see three particularly ‘good’ reasons why they should be applied in this fast-growing field. First, narrative approaches acknowledge the processuality and complexity of social entrepreneurial events; second, narratives as social practices are helpful in unfolding the social trajectories of such projects or enterprises; and third, narrative analysis contributes to a critical understanding of social entrepreneurship and can keep social entrepreneurship from being (re) presented as an unproblematic solution to social problems. Throughout the chapter we will document how storytelling and narration is significant during all parts of...

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