Numéro spécial JBV


Journal of Business Venturing – Special Issue

Entrepreneurship Through a Qualitative Lens

Guest Editors:

Garry Bruton, Texas Christian University (USA)

Steven Si, Tongji University (China)

Roy Suddaby, Unversity of Alberta (Canada)


Qualitative research has a long history in entrepreneurship scholarship.  However, in recent years the use and development of quantitative methods have far outpaced the use and development of qualitative investigations.  Entrepreneurship is not unique in this regard.  Today there has been rapid progress towards sophisticated empirical methods throughout the social sciences.  However, too often the sophisticated methods themselves have become the focus of research with the complexity of the methods seen as a correlate of the potential insights generated.  Unfortunately this has led to a setting in which often large scale investigations are too often occurring before a solid understanding of a given field has been developed to ensure that scholars are asking the right question.

While journals and reviewers continue to argue they are open to rich sets of methods the numbers of qualitative article continue to decline.  Such a decline is troubling for a field such as entrepreneurship in which new domains are constantly being opened up to investigation. Particularly, as scholars increasingly investigate international institutional settings too often scholars are repeating questions asked in mature economies without establishing through qualitative foundation studies to establish what questions should be asked.

There are a rich range of qualitative methodologies that are available.  These methodologies range from in depth understanding of single cases as the authors develop grounded theory to larger scale investigations employing software in order to analyze large numbers of qualitative interviews.  In large measure these methods are tied together by the ability of authors to interpret the results while establishing the validity and reliability of their findings.

In this special issue we are open to a rich range of qualitative methodologies.  We encourage scholars to draw broadly from theoretical traditions across the social sciences (e.g. economics, sociology, psychology, and public policy) and consider multiple levels of analysis.  We welcome research that builds on existing literature and asks nuanced questions.  However, we also see opportunities for researchers to use many other theoretical perspectives and open new fields and domains of entrepreneurship to investigation. Our hope is that this Special Issue will highlight the insights and value of qualitative methods to entrepreneurship and serve as a platform to encourage their use in the discipline.

Our hope is that the papers in this special issue will demonstrate the richness of theoretical and empirical insight that can be generated from methods of open inquiry. Specifically we are interested in manuscripts that:

·         Demonstrate how grounded theory methods can be used to create new and enrich existing theoretical constructs in entrepreneurship.

·         Use subjective-interpretive methods to gain insight into the unique cognition and judgment decision making of individual entrepreneurs.

·         Adopt ethnographic and related methods of rich description to analyze unique manifestations of entrepreneurship in international settings.

·         Construct detailed case studies and organizational histories to better understand entrepreneurship as a process rather than an outcome.

·         Challenge the current ideological assumptions of entrepreneurship theory by exploring empirical contexts of entrepreneurship in non-traditional economies (i.e. China, Brazil, India).

·         Use content analysis to demonstrate shifting macro-level understandings of and attitudes toward entrepreneurship.

The topics above are seen by the editors as suggestions not limitations.  The editors are any manuscript that creatively applies qualitative methods to entrepreneurship.  We encourage a rich range of submissions from authors from a wide range of nations.

In May 2014 a conference associated with the special issue will be occur in which those authors who have received a revise and resubmit will be asked to attend if possible to further develop their papers.  While conference participation is not required it is encouraged.  Partial travel support will be offered to authors.  The conference will take place at Tongji University, Shanghai China.   Associated with this conference will be also a full day seminar to introduce how to employ qualitative methods and publish them to a wider audience.  It is hoped that the paper authors will also participate in this effort.

Submissions should be prepared in accordance with JBV’s style guide and submitted between December 2012 – January, 2013 to manuscript central.   Be sure to indicate that your submission is for the Entrepreneurship Through a Qualitative Lens special issue. The special issue will be published in 2015.

Questions regarding the special issue can be addressed to: Garry Bruton (g.bruton, Steven Si (sixiaof u@ or Roy Suddaby (roy.suddaby @

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