Edited by Michael H. Morris
Chapter 1: Practice-based entrepreneurship education using actionable theory
During a recent viewing of a news story on television, the anchor transitioned from one part of the story to another in a way that piqued our interest. She said, ‘Let’s move from the more theoretical to the real’. Given the academic in us, we thought what a false dichotomy! Is theory not derived from the real (at least in the social sciences)? As Van de Ven (1989) noted in honor of Lewin (1945), good theory is practical because it ‘enlightens the profession of management’ (p. 486). But let us be clear, management is not entrepreneurship. Management is a practice of facilitating what is known while entrepreneurship is a practice of identifying and creating from what is relatively unknown, new or emerging. Thus the relevance of theory in entrepreneurship comes into question more often than in any other business discipline because there does not exist a single, unifying theory informing entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial teams, entrepreneurial organizations, and so on how to act or decide from a portfolio of options, in a generalizable sense, under conditions of extreme uncertainty. In many respects, the choice is quite simple in this scenario. Under conditions of extreme uncertainty the only choice is simple—take action. As noted in Corbett and Katz (2012), ‘it is supremely ironic that for a field defined by an action, the discipline of entrepreneurship has had such an inconsistent tradition of actually studying action’ (p. ix).
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