Academic journal article Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

Entrepreneurship Research (1985-2009) and the Emergence of Opportunities

Academic journal article Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

Entrepreneurship Research (1985-2009) and the Emergence of Opportunities

Article excerpt

In order to identify shifts and trends in the entrepreneurship literature over the past 25 years, we conduct a bibliometric study involving new data from the 2000-2009 era building on 1985-1999 data to study entrepreneurship research published in the major management journals. Our findings indicate that entrepreneurship articles now have a significant presence in the mainline "A" journals. Furthermore, we contend that this presence signals legitimacy and, more importantly, a growing exchange among researchers studying entrepreneurship. The area of entrepreneurial opportunities and nascent ventures is showing signs of growth and in our view represents an area where entrepreneurship is contributing back to the broader research conversation in organizational studies.

Introduction

Historically, entrepreneurship research has had limited exposure in the most influential management journals; thus, its legitimacy as an area of academic inquiry has been questioned (e.g., Cooper & Dunkelberg, 1987; Harrison & Leitch, 1996; Low & MacMillan, 1988). Yet research in the area has grown substantially over the past two decades (Davidsson, 2008; Landstrom, Harirchi, & Astrom, 2012; Schildt, Zahra, & Sillanpaa, 2006; Zahra, 2005). This study examines the entrepreneurship research that has been published in the major management journals and identifies trends for future research in this space. We use a bibliometric technique to examine articles published on the topic of entrepreneurship and find that there is growing convergence around several domains that comprise the majority of entrepreneurship research. We analyze 25 years of data to find the developments that are shaping the current collective state of entrepreneurship research and to study the trends and trajectories of the research in this area. Our empirical findings serve as the foundation from which we raise conjectures and probe questions about the boundaries and direction of research in this domain. More specifically, we examine what might be emerging as a distinctive domain of entrepreneurship research. We also explore the implications of boundary and exchange issues for entrepreneurship in particular and the broader management research in general.

This article makes two primary contributions. First, we offer a quantitative-based perspective reflecting the current trends in the field. Studying the trends in entrepreneurship research helps identify momentum and shifts within the domain to isolate areas where cutting-edge research is developing and where future research can be directed to better advance the field (Aldrich & Baker, 1997; Bull & Willard, 1993; Gartner, Davidsson, & Zahra, 2006; Landstrom et al., 2012). Second, our analysis provides a fresh perspective for those researchers looking toward entrepreneurship as a secondary area of study for extending their own research. Identifying new developments and trends in areas within entrepreneurship will not only facilitate aspiring authors to better position their work but also will potentially enhance the impact of their work. Thus, this study informs researchers who are primarily focused on entrepreneurship research as well as those based in other disciplines who may find their inquiry extending into the entrepreneurship domain (Venkataraman, 1997; Zahra, 2005).

Entrepreneurship and Management Research

An important indication of the quality and legitimacy of any discipline's research is the extent to which studies using concepts and approaches from that discipline are published in leading journals (Aldrich & Baker, 1997). When a field's presence in major journals is limited, questions regarding rigor, conceptual boundaries, and acceptance as a bona fide academic discipline seem to become perpetual issues (Curran & Blackburn, 2001). Entrepreneurship research has historically had a limited presence in the most influential management journals; thus, its legitimacy as an area of academic inquiry has been questioned (Cooper & Dunkelberg, 1987; Harrison & Leitch, 1996; Low & MacMillan, 1988). …

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