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Entrepreneurial action and the Euro-American social science tradition: pragmatism, realism and looking beyond ‘the entrepreneur’

2013

Tony J Watson

Entrepreneurship studies are dominated by the disciplines of economics and psychology and work within a limiting methodological frame of reference; a ?scientistic? and individualistic framework that dominates the US-led mainstream of research. To achieve a more balanced scholarship, it is helpful to look at an alternative style of research and analysis which has deep and intertwined European and American roots. This looks to other social sciences such as sociology, as well as to history and the philosophy of science. Its adoption would encourage to shift the focus away from ?entrepreneurs? and onto the much broader phenomenon of entrepreneurial action or ?entrepreneuring? in its societal and institutional contexts. Such a shift would open up a greatly expanded range of research questions and enable a better balance to be achieved between attention to individual entrepreneurial actors and their organizational, societal and institutional contexts. A pragmatist and realist frame of reference, which recognizes both the importance of processes of social construction and the existence of a ?real world?, has considerable potential to enrich and expand the scope of entrepreneurship scholarship.

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