Entrepreneurship Research Today and Tomorrow – 2017

Entrepreneurship Research Today and Tomorrow


Sari Savolainen – sari.savolainen@jyu.fi


Entrepreneurship is a phenomenon of tremendous societal importance. It is also an elusive phenomenon, and researching entrepreneurship is therefore fun, fascinating—and frustrating at times. In this course “Entrepreneurship research Today and Tomorrow” we will discuss concepts and ideas on how entrepreneurship can or should be researched. After a comprehensive treatment of entrepreneurship as societal phenomenon and scholarly domain, the core part of the course will discuss design, sampling, operationalization and analysis issues on several levels of analysis: individual, venture, firm, industry, region and nation. Numerous examples of problems and solutions from real research projects will be provided, as well as experience-based suggestions for further improvements in future work.

This advanced course implies a high level of personal involvement and contribution by participants. Please, read this syllabus very carefully before the beginning of the course.


Instructor: Sari Savolainen



The goal of the course is to introduce participants into the field of entrepreneurship research and the problems, theories and methods that are prevalent in (empirical) research on entrepreneurship. Participants should learn to ‘know the field’ and develop an ability to assess its strengths and weaknesses as well as its development trends.


Lectures will offer a perspective on the domain of entrepreneurship as a scholarly field, the main topics and approaches associated, and the most established research designs and methodologies adopted by scholars in the field.



The instructor will lead discussion seminars. Student presentations. Self-study in groups or individually.


Course design

This course consists of two components: discussion 70% and final assignment 30%. Students must take the course for a grade. For each topic, we will read and discuss a few articles. The set of articles for each lecture may include theoretical and empirical work, or both. The reading list is short for a seminar of this type. That is because I expect you to read every article and to think about them before coming to class. Our discussions will focus on the specific articles assigned as well as the general theoretical and other issues they raise.


Class Meeting Format:

All seminar participants are expected to engage regularly in the discussions. In preparing, you should look at the goals that I have specified for each session and at discussion questions. See if you feel that your readings have helped you attain these goals; if not, then think about what questions you might ask in class to help you do so. A good way to prepare for class is to think about both the “big story” of the day as well as the details of the articles.

For the “big story”, it may be helpful to ask yourself the following questions about the theory/research area under review:

  • What are the core research problems or questions addressed by the theory/set of readings?
  • What is the typical meta-theory (e.g., concepts, assumptions, evidence, methods, etc.) beyond the approach used in the article?
  • Can you specify the general theoretical arguments typically used in the approach? (4) What is the state of the evidence with respect to various theoretical claims? Obviously, you may find these questions challenging if your knowledge of the approach is limited—but you should try to answer them anyway.

For the details, it may be useful to ask yourself the following questions about each reading:

  1. What are the central theoretical questions addressed? What are the underlying assumptions?
  2. What primary mechanisms are posited?
  3. What is the (empirical or conceptual) evidence to support the argument(s)? How convincing?
  4. What are the basic assumptions behind the analysis?
  5. How could this analysis be improved? Be specific and practical (do not make suggestions that you could not realistically envision yourself implementing); and
  6. Identify at least one way that the analysis is cleverer or smarter than the author knows. This could take the form of deriving a new argument or developing new ideas about other dependent variables. Another approach would be to apply the author’s reasoning under a different setting and explain why it might be useful.


Class Requirements:

  1. Attendance and active discussion in the seminars.
  2. Completion of one Final Assignment illustrated in the syllabus. The assignment topic should be approved by the instructor.


Capsule Course Description:

This course is concerned with foundational issues in current entrepreneurship research. It is aimed at describing the boundaries of entrepreneurship as a field of study and research, and at positioning it vis-à-vis other scholarly domains. It is also designed to help participants develop an understanding of the main topics addressed by entrepreneurship research, and of how such topics can be advanced by further conceptual and empirical work. The goal in this course is to familiarize participants with dominant perspectives on entrepreneurship, as well as with issues of modeling and researching entrepreneurial concepts and phenomena.


Session 1. The foundations of entrepreneurship and the domain of entrepreneurship research

Monday, May 15th 10:00 – 13:00


  • Schumpeter, J.A. (1934) The theory of economic development. An inquiry into profits, capital, credit, interest, and the business cycle. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, pp.3-9 and 57-94.
  • Kirzner, I.M. (1973) Competition and entrepreneurship. Chicago, Ill.: The University of Chicago Press, pp. 1-9 and 30-87.
  • Shane, S. & Venkataraman, S. (2000). The promise of entrepreneurship as a field of research. Academy of Management Review, 25(1), pp. 217-226.
  • Shane, S. (2012). Delivering on the promise of entrepreneurship as a field of research. Academy of Management Review, 37(1): 10-20. ENT Division, Domain Revision Proposal 2011.

Read critically the assigned articles. Be prepared to illustrate and discuss them in class.

Reflect on the following issues:

  1. What is the relationship between neoclassical economics and the perspective on entrepreneurship of Schumpeter and Kirzner? What are the concepts common to textbook economics (as you know it from previous PhD courses) and entrepreneurship theory as described in the work of these two authors? What are some new concepts and what are some missing concepts?
  2. What are the main assumptions/hypotheses behind the work of each of these two entrepreneurship authors (Schumpeter &Kirzner) emerging from their work?
  3. What are the main differences between the approach to entrepreneurship of these two authors (Schumpeter &Kirzner) according to the authors themselves? According to your personal reading of their work?
  4. Is it possible to reach an agreement about the definition of entrepreneurship as an empirical phenomenon and as a field of study?
  5. Is it possible (and useful) to trace clear boundaries between entrepreneurship and other fields of study (like, for example, strategy or marketing)?
  6. What is the potential and what are the difficulties inherent in defining entrepreneurship starting from the entrepreneur’s characteristics, starting from entrepreneurial opportunities, or starting from a combination of the two?




Session 2. Cognitive dimensions of entrepreneurship

Wednesday May 17th 10:00 – 13:00


  • Dutton, J. E., & Jackson, S. E. 1987. Categorizing strategic issues: Links to organizational action. Academy of Management Review, 12(1): 76-90.
  • Baron, R. A. 2004. The cognitive perspective: A valuable tool for answering entrepreneurship’s basic “why” questions. Journal of Business Venturing, 19: 221-239.
  • McMullen, J. S., & Shepherd, D. A. 2006. Entrepreneurial action and the role of uncertainty in the theory of the entrepreneur. Academy of Management Review, 31: 132 152.
  • Baron, R. A., & Ensley, M. D. 2006. Opportunity recognition as the detection of meaningful patterns: Evidence from comparisons of novice and experienced entrepreneurs. Management Science, 52: 1331-1344.
  • Anderson, M. H., & Nichols, M. L. 2007. Information gathering and changes in threat and opportunity perceptions. Journal of Management Studies, 44(3): 367-387.
  • Gregoire, D. A., Barr, P. S., & Shepherd, D. A. 2010. Cognitive Processes of Opportunity Recognition: The Role of Structural Alignment. Organization Science, 21, 413-434.

Read critically the assigned articles. Be prepared to illustrate and discuss them in class.

Reflect on the following issues:

  1. What are the main features of a cognitive perspective to entrepreneurship?
  2. What can a cognitive perspective bring to the development of entrepreneurship theory?
  3. Why and how are opportunities and threats different? On the opposite, what do they have in common?
  4. What is the empirical evidence about the cognitive processes behind the recognition of opportunities and threats? Do individuals tend to see more opportunities or more threats?
  5. How can the cognitive processes behind opportunity creation/recognition be investigated?
  6. Is it possible to increase the chances that opportunities (vs. threats) are recognized, by leveraging existing knowledge of the underlying cognitive processes?


Session 3. Research opportunities at the field of entrepreneurship

Monday May 22nd 10:00 – 14:00

Entrepreneurship can be studied also from very different perspectives. Search three latest research articles which approaches entrepreneurship from new perspective. Be prepare to illustrate and discuss them in class. Reflect on the following issues:

  1. Do you find from your articles connections to classical entrepreneurship research?
  2. Do your articles deepen our understanding about entrepreneurship and if how?
  3. What is nature of the article and can you find its connection to research implementation?
  4. What do you thing could be studied in the future at field of entrepreneurship? Can you find new perspectives to entrepreneurship research?
  5. Where is the future of entrepreneurship research?