Entrepreneurial Process Studies Using Insider Action Research: Opportunities & Challenges for Entrepreneurship Scholarship

Author:Anthony Paul Buckley, Kisito Futonge Nzembayie
Publication Date:01 Sep 2020
Entrepreneurial Process Studies Using Insider
Action Research: Opportunities & Challenges
for Entrepreneurship Scholarship
Technological University Dublin
This paper examines the opportunitiesand challenges of adopting insideraction research (IAR) in entrepreneurial
process studies. It employs a critical reflexive and narrative approach in examining our own lived experience in a
realtime digital entrepreneurial journey spanning three years while triangulating it with experiential knowledge in
another role as dissertation supervisors. Our live case illustrates that IAR, when it combines reflective practice,
cooperative inquiry and design science, represents a suitable but underexploited methodology for entrepreneurship
scholarship. We build on this knowledge to offer a model for incorporating this methodology in entrepreneurship
research and education. Consequently, we contribute towards responding to the need for
phenomenonmethodology fit in the discipline. Ultimately, the papers value lies in its effort towards resolving the
seemingly perennial question regarding the legitimacy of entrepreneurship as a distinctive domain of scholarship.
Keywords: entrepreneurial process; insider action research; entrepreneurship scholarship
Attaining good quality organisational research partly
hinges on achieving phenomenonmethodology fit.
Phenomenonmethodology fit is broadly defined as
ensuring logical consistency between the aim of the
research and its design choices, as well as prior research
and contribution to theory and practice (Edmondson and
McManus, 2007). In the entrepreneurship context,
Davidsson (2016) emphasises the need for logical
consistency by stating that poor research practices include
addressing qualitative problems with mainly quantitative
methodologies and vice versa. Research, therefore, has
to let the phenomenon and its corresponding research
question, dictate the appropriate design choices, and not
the other way round (Bouchard, 1976). Similarly,
entrepreneurship education requires a practicebased
pedagogical methodology, which is consistent with the
pragmatic nature of the phenomenon.
The entrepreneurship phenomenon has been described
as a process of ongoing creative organising
(Johannisson, 2011, p.136). This process often involves
tensions between order creation and the uncertainty of
entrepreneurial emergence. Order creation begins as the
envisioning of future outcomes based on externally
enabled new venture ideas (Davidsson, 2015).
Meanwhile, tensions manifest as entrepreneurs commit
time and effort in translating their vision into reality
through action. Hence, entrepreneurial action is usually
defined by the situatedness of uncertainty perceived and
the willingness to bear uncertainty (McMullen and
Shepherd, 2006). The dialogue that ensues from the
tensions often ensures that the entrepreneurial journey
unfolds as a series of nonlinear events. There are several
initiatives for responding to the somewhat chaotic nature
of the phenomenon in teaching and research.
Given the nature of the phenomenon, several scholars
argue that it hardly lends itself to methodologies
developed for smooth continuous processes
(Bygrave, 2007). Accordingly, Wiklund et al. (2011)
argue for a phenomenonbased view of entrepreneurship
research, which extends the study of entrepreneurship
into new domains. With this view, entrepreneurship
is a phenomenon defined by change, newness and
development that transcends organisational contexts
(Welter, 2011). As a dynamic phenomenon, studies need
not merely focus on what is,butwhat happenswith
sensitivity to time (Roe, 2008). Hence, calls for more
Correspondence: Kisito Futonge Nzembayie, Technological University
Dublin. Email: kisito.futongenzembayie@tudublin.ie
European Management Review, Vol. 17, 803815, (2020)
DOI: 10.1111/emre.12422
© 2020 European Academy of Management

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