This session introduces you the research process in social science. The aim is to familiarize you with how academic research is conducted, understand the difference between theory building and theory testing, and have an idea about the last trends in entrepreneurship research. One of the objectives is to start debunking the mystery of scientific research, and to start finding joy in exploring a phenomenon scientifically. To say it in the words of Andy Fields, author of Discovering Statistics using R/SPSS, an excellent text book to learn quantitative analysis:
“Whatever it is you’re studying or researching, the reason you’re studying it is probably because you’re interested in answering questions. Scientists are curious people, and you probably are too. However, you might not have bargained on the fact that to answer interesting questions, you need two things: data and an explanation of those data. The answer to ‘what the hell are you doing here?’ is, therefore, simple: to answer interesting questions you need data. Therefore, one of the reasons why your evil (statistics) lecturer is forcing you to learn about numbers is because they are a form of data and are vital to the research process. Of course there are forms of data other than numbers that can be used to test and generate theories. When numbers are involved the research involves quantitative methods, but you can also generate and test theories by analysing language (such as conversations, magazine articles, media broadcasts and so on). This involves qualitative methods … People can get quite passionate about which of these methods is best, which is a bit silly because they are complementary, not competing, approaches and there are much more important issues in the world to get upset about.” (Fields et al. 2012, p. 2-3)
In session 1 there are three readings assigned to start exploring the foundation of research and the current state of research on entrepreneurship. The exercise builds on those readings and additionally asks you to find other interesting studies that motivate you to go further in exploring a specific phenomenon.
1. Colquitt, J.A., & Zapata-Phelan, C.P. 2007. Trends in theory building and theory testing: a five-decade study of the Academy of Management Journal. Academy of Management Journal, 50(6), 1281-1303. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=28165855&site=ehost-live
2. Daft, R.L. 1983. Learning the craft of organizational research. Academy of Management Review, 8, 539-546. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=4284649&site=ehost-live
3. Shepherd, D.A. 2015. Party On! A call for entrepreneurship research that is more interactive, activity based, cognitively hot, compassionate, and prosocial. Journal of Business Venturing, 30, 489-507. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=102773579&site=ehost-live
Exercise 1.1 – Comprehend
- After getting acquainted with the materials (readings, videos), explain how theory building and theory testing links to qualitative and quantitative research.
- What is the usefulness of theory in trying to understand something that interests you?
- Is theory
building the opposite of theory testing, or can the two be combined? Briefly
explain your reasoning.
Exercise 1.2 – Critique
describe a theory used in entrepreneurship research, e.g. in Shepherd (2015),
that in your opinion has high explanatory power to reason why people become
entrepreneurs. Could you think of a rivalling theory and its logical
speculation why people become entrepreneurs.
Please check. Did you gain an understanding of the following?
- The usefulness and limitations of theory
- Some theories used in entrepreneurship research
- The difference between theory testing and theory building
If you can answer everything with a confident Yes! then you have achieved the learning objective of this session.