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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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

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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.
    2. Hjorth, Daniel & Jones, Campbell & Gartner, William B., 2008. "Introduction for 'Recreating/Recontextualising Entrepreneurship'," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 81-84, June.
    3. Landström, Hans & Harirchi, Gouya & Åström, Fredrik, 2012. "Entrepreneurship: Exploring the knowledge base," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(7), pages 1154-1181.
    4. Menezes, Flavio M., 2008. "An Introduction to Auction Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199275991.
    5. Aurora A.C. Teixeira, 2011. "Mapping the (In)visible College(s) in the Field of Entrepreneurship," FEP Working Papers 416, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Isabel Neira & Nuria Calvo & Loreto Fernández & Marta Portela, 0. "Entrepreneur: do social capital and culture matter?," International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-19.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. repec:spr:intemj:v:13:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11365-016-0418-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    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. repec:eee:respol:v:47:y:2018:i:3:p:650-662 is not listed on IDEAS

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