Call for Papers – Journal of Small Business Management – In search of creative qualitative methods to capture modern-day entrepreneurship research challenges

Call for Papers – Journal of Small Business Management – In search of creative qualitative methods to capture modern-day entrepreneurship research challenges 

Special Issue Guest Editors

Martine Hlady-Rispal, University of Limoges, France
Alain Fayolle, EM Lyon, France
William B. Gartner, Babson College, U.S.

Submission deadline: January 15, 2020

Call for submissions

In 2014 JSBM call for submissions, Karastas-Ozkan, Anderson, Fayolle  et al. (2014) aimed to challenge dominant entrepreneurship perspectives and theorize entrepreneurship through new post-positivist epistemologies. They invited researchers to be more explicit in their ontological, epistemological and methodological underpinnings. The special issue authors also called for more contextualized studies, interdisciplinary approaches, studies with more organizational micro-dynamics focus.

To date, a number of scholars still deplore the insufficient recourse to qualitative methods in entrepreneurship affirming their specific contribution to the development of the field (e.g. Chalmers and Shaw, 2017; Hindle, 2018). Yet, qualitative methodologies are able to address fundamental entrepreneurship questions because they rely on tools to capture and analyze open, creative, flexible and contextualized data. They are interpretative since they describe, decode, and question the meaning of facts, actions, decisions, and actors’ representations that are currently taking place or that took place in the past (Hlady-Rispal and Jouison-Laffitte, 2014). Besides, qualitative methodologies have the potential to enhance the comprehension of modern-day entrepreneurship research challenges because the related tools are well adapted to the study of entrepreneurial processes that comprises loops, ruptures, enrichments, and rejections (Bygrave, 1989; Huse and Landström, 1997; Gartner and Birley, 2002; Hindle, 2004).

Among major challenges, the uberisation of the economy, along with the rarefaction of resources, climate changes, customers’ and workers’ quality of life aspirations, etc. create new forms of ventures, operating largely on the model of entrepreneurship. This model has the advantage for organizations of discharging social contributions and suggests that autoentrepreneurs be responsible for their “profitability” and “performance”. Understanding these new concepts is complex and requires holistic protocols.

This special issue is a call for research on the postures, tools and methods used to capture modern-day entrepreneurship research challenges. We are seeking papers that are reflexive in their nature and transparent in their application of such paradigmatic qualitative designs and theoretical underpinnings. In so doing, we aim to promote qualitative studies in entrepreneurship research that develop entrepreneurship theory based on rich and credible qualitative data collected and analyzed through detailed research methods. We sense that methodological understanding of the role of qualitative methods in the study of entrepreneurial phenomena is a critical priority, because it contributes to the study of methods adapted to the field and more generally of the link between qualitative methods and theory construction (Weick, 1979; Miles and Huberman, 1994; Klag and Langley, 2013). The objective of this special issue, therefore, is to show why and how qualitative methods clearly and distinctively contribute to the understanding of modern entrepreneurship issues.

Researchers studying modern entrepreneurship challenges can deploy a specific method or combine case study approaches with observation, ethnography, phenomenology, narratives, grounded theory, interviews, questioning or action learning and use multiple sources of data such as participant application forms, written feedback, participants’ interviews, videos, figures, etc. All the same, a “full-cycle” methodology that associates inductive qualitative approaches (ethnography and interviews) and deductive experimental methods (including field, lab-in-the-field and natural experiments) could be considered (Kuruvilla and Ranganathan, 2008). The qualitative methods help to elaborate hypotheses linking novel mechanisms for identification with modern-day entrepreneurial challenges, while the quantitative methods help to causally test these hypotheses using experimental designs. Through the diversity and forms they take, qualitative methods can also capture crucial entrepreneurial processes, such as the entrepreneurial mindset, opportunity construction, work–life balance, managing emotions and learning from failure (Fayolle, 2013). Core contributions of qualitative methods in the study of entrepreneurial challenges include understanding context, theory building, sense-making and enacting action (Hlady-Rispal and Jouison-Laffitte, 2014). They may also show that creative design and scientific validation are legitimate and complementary research approaches that can impel the constant regeneration of the entrepreneurship field and reveal the potential of an inclusive body of knowledge that is both demanding and appropriate (Romme and Reymen, 2018).

We therefore invite papers that help establish the relevance and utility of different qualitative postures and methods to the study of modern-day academic and entrepreneurship challenges. We also welcome papers with novel qualitative frameworks and with empirical grounding.  

Possible questions and areas to be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Theorization: do we need specific theories for the study of modern-day entrepreneurship challenges? Is there a need for an inclusive body of knowledge? How can creative design and scientific validation be complementary and of equivalent input to research activities in entrepreneurship research?
  • Modern-day entrepreneurial contexts: how can qualitative research deal with modern-day challenges such as uberization, digitalization, neurosciences or sustainable entrepreneurship? How can they reveal today’s entrepreneurs’ idealized representations as regards to society and innovative contexts; how can they unveil new ways of capturing aspects of modern entrepreneurial worlds?
  • Entrepreneurial actors: how can qualitative studies follow entrepreneurial actors, organizations and environment in transformation; studying them as ‘something in motion’. How can they capture entrepreneurs’ new sense-making process concerning responsibility and performance and establish the interdependence between the entrepreneur, their venture and their contemporary environment?
  • Entrepreneurial organizations: how can qualitative research explain the role of personal and historical contingencies in the setting up of innovative starts-ups? Can they show the situated nature of modern entrepreneurial routines and praxes? Can they grasp temporal processes and their acceleration due to information sciences?

We also welcome papers that develop innovative methodological approaches and cross-disciplinary expertise (especially in sociology, ethnography and social psychology), including the interaction between different qualitative methods or between quantitative and qualitative approaches, through real empirical examples. Papers may also tackle the problem of the replication of qualitative studies in entrepreneurship research (Arend, 2018) and should explain their nature and posture, such as realism, critical realism, pragmatism, interpretivism and social constructivism. The papers will search to extent concepts or expand a specific theory and debate the need for specific theories for the entrepreneurship field. They will study modern day entrepreneurship challenges and consider entrepreneurial contemporary contexts.

Review process and timetable

  • Submission deadline: January 15, 2020
  • Feedback from reviewers: March 15, 2020
  • Submission of revised papers: September 1, 2020
  • Sending SI package to JSBM: October 15, 2020
  • Publication: January 2021 (Volume 59, Issue 1)


Arend, R. J. (2018). Why we can’t have nice things: Replications, applied external theories and accumulated knowledge. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 10, e00098.

Bygrave, W. (1989). “The Entrepreneurship Paradigm (I): A Philosophical Look at Its Research Methodologies,” Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 14(1), 7–26.

Byrne, J., Delmar, F., Fayolle, A., & Lamine, W. (2016). Training corporate entrepreneurs: an action learning approach. Small Business Economics, 47(2), 479-506.

Chalmers, D. M., & Shaw, E. (2017). The endogenous construction of entrepreneurial contexts: A practice-based perspective. International Small Business Journal, 35(1), 19-39.

Chandler G.N. and D.W. Lyon. 2001. “Issues of Research Design and construct Measurement in Entrepreneurship research: the past decade”, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 25 4: 101-113.

Fayolle, A. (2013). Personal views on the future of entrepreneurship education. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 25(7-8), 692-701.

Gartner, W. B., & S. Birley (2002). “Introduction to the Special Issue on Qualitative Methods in Entrepreneurship Research,” Journal of Business Venturing 17(5), 387–396.

Hlady‐Rispal, M., & Jouison-Laffitte, E. (2014). Qualitative research methods and epistemological frameworks: A review of publication trends in entrepreneurship. Journal of Small Business Management, 52(4), 594-614.

Hindle K. 2004. “Choosing qualitative methods for entrepreneurial cognition research: A canonical development approach”. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 28 6: 575-607.

Hindle D. (2018). PDW – “Crafting Scholar / Researcher Wisdom: Co-constructing Learning and Identity – Observations, Reflections and Futures”. Rent conference, November 14, Toledo, Spain.

Huse M., & Landström H. (1997). “European Entrepreneurship and small business research: methodological openness and contextual differences”. International Studies of Management and Organization 27 3: 3-12.

Klag, M., & Langley, A. (2013). Approaching the conceptual leap in qualitative research. International Journal of Management Reviews, 15(2), 149-166.

Miles, M. B., and A.M. Huberman. 1994. “Qualitative Data Analysis. An Expanded Sourcebook”. 2nd ed. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Kuruvilla, S., & Ranganathan, A. (2008). Economic development strategies and macro-and micro-level human resource policies: The case of India’s “outsourcing” industry. ILR Review, 62(1), 39-72.

Mullen M., D.G. Budeva, and P.M. Doney. 2009. “Research Methods in the leading small business-entrepreneurship journals: a critical review with recommendations for future research”. Journal of Small Business Management 47 3: 287-307.

Neergaard, H., & Ulhøi, J. P. (Eds.). (2007). Handbook of qualitative research methods in entrepreneurship. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods, 3rd edition, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Romme, A. G. L., & Reymen, I. M. (2018). Entrepreneurship at the interface of design and science: Toward an inclusive framework. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 10, e00094.

Weick, K. E. 1979. “The Social Psychology of Organizing. Reading”. MA: Addison-Wesley.