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The emergence of entrepreneurship as an academic field: A personal essay on institutional entrepreneurship

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  • Aldrich, Howard E.

Abstract

The academic field of entrepreneurship research has grown from groups of isolated scholars doing research on small businesses to an international community of departments, institutes, and foundations promoting research on new and high-growth firms. Growth has produced increasingly systematic and interconnected knowledge and growing numbers of knowledge producers and knowledge users share core concepts, principles, and research methods, and a handful of highly cited scholars have emerged as thought leaders within research subfields. The field is increasingly formalized and anchored in a small set of intellectual bases, although there are also some signs of differentiation and fragmentation. Using an institutional theory perspective and drawing upon my experience in the field, I explore six forces creating the institutional infrastructure. First, social networking mechanisms have created a social structure facilitating connections between researchers. Second, publication opportunities have increased dramatically. Third, training and mentoring has moved to a collective rather than individual apprenticeship model. Fourth, major foundations and many other smaller funding sources have changed the scale and scope of entrepreneurship research. Fifth, new mechanisms have emerged that recognize and reward individual scholarship, reinforcing the identity of entrepreneurship research as a field and attracting new scholars into it. Sixth, globalizing forces have affected all of these trends. I conclude with some thoughts about the consequences of these developments with regard to the giving of practical and timely advice to entrepreneurs, the effects of American hegemony on choices of research topics and methods, and the possible loss of theoretical eclecticism.

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  • Aldrich, Howard E., 2012. "The emergence of entrepreneurship as an academic field: A personal essay on institutional entrepreneurship," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(7), pages 1240-1248.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:41:y:2012:i:7:p:1240-1248
    DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2012.03.013
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    1. Paul Reynolds & Niels Bosma & Erkko Autio & Steve Hunt & Natalie De Bono & Isabel Servais & Paloma Lopez-Garcia & Nancy Chin, 2005. "Global Entrepreneurship Monitor: Data Collection Design and Implementation 1998–2003," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 205-231, February.
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    1. Isabel Neira & Nuria Calvo & Loreto Fernández & Marta Portela, 2017. "Entrepreneur: do social capital and culture matter?," International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 665-683, June.
    2. Sorin-George Toma & Paul Marinescu & Andreea Saseanu, 2018. "Schools of Thought: The Case of Entrepreneurship," Manager Journal, Faculty of Business and Administration, University of Bucharest, vol. 27(1), pages 140-145, December.
    3. Per Davidsson & Jan Henrik Gruenhagen, 2021. "Fulfilling the Process Promise: A Review and Agenda for New Venture Creation Process Research," Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, , vol. 45(5), pages 1083-1118, September.
    4. Bo Carlsson & Pontus Braunerhjelm & Maureen McKelvey & Christer Olofsson & Lars Persson & Håkan Ylinenpää, 2013. "The evolving domain of entrepreneurship research," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 41(4), pages 913-930, December.
    5. Luis Javier Cabeza Ramírez & Sandra M. Sánchez-Cañizares & Fernando J. Fuentes-García, 2019. "Past Themes and Tracking Research Trends in Entrepreneurship: A Co-Word, Cites and Usage Count Analysis," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(11), pages 1-32, June.
    6. Möllers, Judith & Traikova, Diana & Buchenrieder, Gertrud, 2014. "Peculiarities of emerging rural entrepreneurship in a post-socialist economy," 2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 182862, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    7. Guerrero, Maribel & Cunningham, James A. & Urbano, David, 2015. "Economic impact of entrepreneurial universities’ activities: An exploratory study of the United Kingdom," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 748-764.
    8. Phillip H. Kim & Karl Wennberg & Grégoire Croidieu, 2016. "Untapped Riches of Meso-Level Applications in Multilevel Entrepreneurship Mechanisms," Post-Print hal-02276717, HAL.
    9. Fagerberg, Jan & Landström, Hans & Martin, Ben R., 2012. "Exploring the emerging knowledge base of ‘the knowledge society’," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(7), pages 1121-1131.
    10. Landström, Hans & Harirchi, Gouya & Åström, Fredrik, 2012. "Entrepreneurship: Exploring the knowledge base," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(7), pages 1154-1181.
    11. Clausen, Tommy & Fagerberg, Jan & Gulbrandsen, Magnus, 2012. "Mobilizing for change: A study of research units in emerging scientific fields," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(7), pages 1249-1261.
    12. Ren Lu & Qi Lu & Daguo Lv & Yuxiang Huang & Shuping Li & Ze Jian & Torger Reve, 2020. "The Evolution Process Of Entrepreneurship Studies In The 21st Century: Research Insights From Top Business And Economics Journals," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(4), pages 922-951, September.
    13. Landström, Hans & Harirchi, Gouya, 2018. "The social structure of entrepreneurship as a scientific field," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 650-662.
    14. João J. M. Ferreira & Cristina I. Fernandes & Sascha Kraus, 2019. "Entrepreneurship research: mapping intellectual structures and research trends," Review of Managerial Science, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 181-205, February.
    15. Maribel Guerrero & David Urbano & Alain Fayolle, 2016. "Entrepreneurial activity and regional competitiveness: evidence from European entrepreneurial universities," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 105-131, February.
    16. Qian Ye, 2017. "Entrepreneurs, Strategy, Venturing Process and Industry Environment: A Configurational Approach to New Venture Emergence," International Business Research, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 10(3), pages 148-163, March.
    17. Christian Corsi & Antonio Prencipe, 2018. "The Contribution of University Spin-Offs to the Competitive Advantage of Regions," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 9(2), pages 473-499, June.
    18. Wood, Matthew S., 2020. "Editorial: Advancing the field of entrepreneurship: The primacy of unequivocal “A” level entrepreneurship journals," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 35(5).

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