The Central Question in Entrepreneurial Cognition Research 2007

Article excerpt

In this article, we take note of advances in the entrepreneurial cognition research stream. In doing so, we bring increasing attention to the usefulness of entrepreneurial cognition research. First, we offer and develop a central research question to further enable entrepreneurial cognition inquiry. Second, we present the conceptual background and some representative approaches to entrepreneurial cognition research that form the context for this question. Third, we introduce the articles in this Special Issue as framed by the central question and approaches to entrepreneurial cognition research, and suggest how they further contribute to this developing stream. Finally, we offer our views concerning the challenges and opportunities that await the next generation of entrepreneurial cognition scholarship. We therefore invite (and seek to enable) the growing community of entrepreneurship researchers from across multiple disciplines to further develop the "thinking--doing" link in entrepreneurship research. It is our goal to offer colleagues an effective research staging point from which they may embark upon many additional research expeditions and investigations involving entrepreneurial cognition.

Introduction

Echoing Popper's (1959) notion that general knowledge growth is propelled by the growth of specialized knowledge, we focus this article on the progress of the emerging entrepreneurial cognition research stream as it contributes to overall knowledge growth in the field of entrepreneurship. Specifically, we take note of the flow of advances in the entrepreneurial cognition research stream and of how this stream is increasingly being recognized as a critical perspective for understanding entrepreneurship-related phenomena. The more recent advances consist of innovation that occurred earlier in this decade, as definitions were developed (e.g., Mitchell, Busenitz et al., 2002) and the boundaries and the exchanges of entrepreneurial cognition research with its contributing fields were made explicit (Mitchell et al., 2004). In this article, we commence a transition from innovation through diffusion toward legitimization (e.g., Lawrence, Winn, & Jennings, 2001) by identifying the central research question that emerges from work to date in entrepreneurial cognition. Hopefully this research question can provide a conceptual staging point from which researchers embark upon future explorations.

Although not exhaustive, our intensive editorial involvement in two conferences and three Special Issue (SI) volumes on entrepreneurial cognition has created within the Editorial Team a perspective that we believe will be constructive to building further research in the area. In this third SI article, we specifically address the development of research questions concerning entrepreneurial cognition inquiry. With this article and the other research articles presented within this SI volume, we therefore invite and seek to enable a growing community of entrepreneurship researchers from across multiple disciplines to further develop the "thinking--doing" link in entrepreneurship research.

One of the main activities of the Second Entrepreneurial Cognition Conference (the 2005 Conference held at the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario) was to spend some time working on the central questions in entrepreneurial cognition research. A variety of possible questions were developed (Appendix A). Since the conference, the Editorial Team has continued to discuss and work on this issue. After an extensive dialogue, what has emerged is a central question in entrepreneurial cognition research.

This article proceeds in the following manner. First, we discuss the central research question to further enable entrepreneurial cognition inquiry. Second, we present the conceptual background and several representative approaches to entrepreneurial cognition research that form the context for this question. …