February 16, 2004
The Field of Entrepreneurship Studies
Posted by Gordon Smith

Is there a separate field of entrepreneurship studies? That was part of our conversation on Friday in the INSITE Research Frontiers. This issue is important in business schools, which have devoted substantial resources to entrepreneurship studies over the past few decades. The question is whether there is any there there. That is, can we find any reason to treat the study of entrepreneurship separately from other fields of study.

Strategy scholars successfully made the case for their discipline in the 1970s. Organizational behavior scholars made the case for their field before that. In the end, the answer depends on whether there is anything distinctive about entrepreneurship. We know, for example, that organizations behave differently than individuals; therefore, it makes sense to separate the study of organizational behavior from the study of individual behavior. But are entrepreneurs different from other people like organizations are different from individuals? Even if you intuitively believe that entrepreneurs are different, proving it is another matter. So far, studies of entrepreneurs' interests, behaviors, and personalities are all over the map. Those who want recognition for this field still need to make the case.

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