In entrepreneurship studies, there is an ongoing discussion of the phenomenon of entrepreneurship where the question: What do we really study? – is difficult to avoid. Sometimes the response is: I´m studying the number of recently started companies. At other times: I follow a broader creative process, where something new and innovative lures. Irrespective of our view of entrepreneurship we may, probably sooner than later, realize that there are many connections between how we view the phenomenon of interest.
This makes it difficult to reject philosophical questions and thus processual, practical, relational and critical dimensions of entrepreneurship. Altogether it requires us to consider our ontological and epistemological assumptions so that we can develop well thought out and appropriate approach for the particular entrepreneurial phenomenon and context we are interested to study.
Aims and objectives
How do we study what we say we study? In this doctoral course, we choose to take a closer look into research that has approached the phenomena of entrepreneurship using qualitative methods. The diversity of entrepreneurship studies poses both challenges and opportunities for the researcher and in this course, we will be able to discuss these matters with other researchers and amongst each other.
The course will be built upon prior research as well as doing your own research using qualitative methods. The aim of the course is to reflect and discuss some of the ontological and epistemological assumptions that are made in others and in your own research, hence we will dig deep into how some of the theoretical assumptions can or cannot be translated into a specific research question(s). The course will also give you the opportunity to experiment with a chosen qualitative method applied to your entrepreneurial phenomena of interest.
On successful completion of the course you are expected to be able to:
- Demonstrate ability to meaningfully and reflectively apply methodological and theoretical thinking and concepts to initiate, conduct, interpret and analyse entrepreneurial phenomena.
- Account for ontological and epistemological assumptions and justify your choice of method(s)
- Demonstrate an overall awareness of qualitative methods used within your field of research and “delineate” the strength and weaknesses of these methods
The course deals with the following topics:
- Epistemological and ontological assumptions of entrepreneurship studies, the underlying challenges of studying entrepreneurship. In particular, we focus on what it implies – to methodologically – take language and practice seriously.
- Ethical dimensions in qualitative methods – spanning from discussions on protecting the other to protecting research.
- Qualitative methodological approaches such as ethnography, observation, shadowing, interviewing, visual methods, action research, will be introduced.
- An overview of qualitative methods, their methodological opportunities and limits
- Account for your ontological and epistemological assumptions/premises.
- Justify your choice of methods scientifically and ethically.
Teaching and learning activities
The course consists of a combination of lectures, guest lectures, seminars and written assignments. Before the first course meeting, you will conduct an analysis of your favorite scientific journal, by examining approx. ten articles and the qualitative methodological approaches adopted in these studies. More information about this task will be sent in the welcome letter to the course. You are expected to present your ‘findings’ at the start of the course.
The course is examined through active participation in seminars through the following four tasks:
- Prepare an analysis of methods in your favorite journal – focusing on ten articles – and present what qualitative methods are used, how they are put into work, what they help us see/understand, and if and how researchers motivate their choice of methods ethically. This task will be presented more in detail in the welcome letter.
- Write a review on a dissertation (book or paper-based) using qualitative methods of your interest (not necessarily in your own research area) (max. 7 double-spaced pages). Prepare a presentation of your review together with a reflection on the ethical dimension you reflected upon in your reading of the thesis.
- Write a short reflective paper on your study of applied method (your methodological ponderings and how you may justify your choice of qualitative method(s).
- You are also expected to present an oral review of a colleague’s short paper on the justification of chosen qualitative method, to be presented at the final seminar.
The reading list will be provided in due time.
Course set up:
The course will be given on campus as well as digitally. The course is scheduled in 3 different parts. Before and during the course the Ph.D. students will work individually.
A 2-day seminar on campus. What and how is the qualitative research method used in entrepreneurship studies? A discussion of theoretical assumptions and qualitative methods. An overview of the portfolio of qualitative methods used (and not used in entrepreneurship studies).
In this first part, the PhD-students will present their findings regarding the journal they have investigated. We will also have colleagues presenting their experiences of working with different qualitative methods. Discussion on epistemological and ontological assumptions.
Digital lectures and seminar(s). Seminars for presenting and discussing the reviews of the chosen thesis. Discussions on how to justify your choice of methods scientifically and ethically. The number of seminars depends on the number of participants. Lectures on qualitative methods.
A 2-day seminar on campus. The experimentation of qualitative methods in entrepreneurship studies.
In the final part, you will be invited to conduct real-life methodological experiments in groups. We will then meet up and discuss and reflect on our shared experiences. In this final part, we will also listen and discuss the oral reviews of the PhDs short papers.