Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Entrepreneurship and Small Business
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Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Entrepreneurship and Small Business

Edited by Alan Carsrud and Malin Brännback

This thought provoking book builds on existing research traditions that make small business, entrepreneurship and family business a resource rich arena for study. It steps back to ask fundamental questions that every researcher should consider prior to engaging in data collection. It focuses on topics that have traditionally frustrated researchers including experimental methods in small business research, scale development, control variables and language issues in cross cultural research.
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Chapter 9: Fighting a rearguard action? Reflections on the philosophy and practice of qualitative research in entrepreneurship

Richard T. Harrison and Claire M. Leitch


'What is entrepreneurship?' is a question of abiding interest to entrepreneurship scholars. In the apparent absence, to date, of agreement on a unique core of theoretical or methodological propositions, the answer to this question is most commonly to be found in elaborations of the subject matter (the topic of study) of the field, but this may create more problems than it resolves (Harrison and Leitch, 1996). This is evident from, for example, the recently agreed domain statement of the Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management, which defines entrepreneurship as '(a) the actors, actions, resources, environmental influences and outcomes associated with the emergence of entrepreneurial opportunities and/or new economic activities in multiple organizational contexts and (b) the characteristics, actions, and challenges of owner-managers and their businesses' (Academy of Management, August 2011; www.aomonline. org). While the breadth of this definition is permissive, in that it allows researchers to define entrepreneurship in a manner that fits their research (Brush et al., 2008; Davidsson et al., 2001), it also dissipates the focus of entrepreneurship research into a fragmented potpourri field (Gartner, 2001; Harrison and Leitch, 1996). In consequence, while the field has developed substantially over the past 25 years (Cornelius et al., 2006), there is no clear sense of progress (Aldrich, 1992; Aldrich and Baker, 1997; Brush et al., 2008) and it is still seeking legitimacy (Bruyat and Julian, 2001; Busenitz et al., 2003).

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