Rethinking entrepreneurship methodology and definitions of the entrepreneur

Carole Howorth*, Sue Tempest, Christine Coupland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose - The paper aims to highlight the potential of paradigm interplay for providing greater insight into entrepreneurship research, in this case definitions of the entrepreneur. Design/methodology/approach - Literature from entrepreneurship, organisation studies and strategy highlights the potential of multiple paradigm research. We demonstrate how to conduct such a study through paradigm interplay by applying four contrasting research perspectives to four case studies of habitual entrepreneurs. Findings - The practical challenges of conducting multiple paradigm research are illustrated. A number of consistent themes across all four paradigms provide some insight into the reasons why it is difficult to agree on a single definition of the entrepreneur. Insights into the value and operationalisation of multiple paradigm research in the field of entrepreneurship are provided. Research limitations/implications - An exhaustive review of definitions of the entrepreneur is not provided. This is a study into how multiple paradigm research can be used to enrich understanding. Advice for the conduct of studies employing paradigm interplay is presented. Practical implications - The same individuals or firms can be included or excluded depending on the definition employed. This can lead to confusion particularly in establishing eligibility and applicability of specific policy measures. Full awareness of underlying assumptions is required. Originality/value - Paradigm interplay is a new approach for entrepreneurship research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-40
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Small Business and Enterprise Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Entrepreneurialism
  • Research methods

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