History of Entrepreneurship

History matters in entrepreneurship research!

There are many arguments for this statement: First, we have amassed a lot of knowledge about entrepreneurship, but early contributions tend to have been forgotten rather quickly or they become reduced into “obligatory” citations in contemporary studies. However, a thorough understanding of past contributions can help researchers to create a necessary knowledge accumulation within the field. Therefore, within the ENT Historian Committee we want to acknowledge earlier contributions and contributors within the field in order to create a focus on knowledge accumulation in entrepreneurship research.

Second, entrepreneurship has a tradition of being a multidisciplinary research field and in this respect we borrow a lot of concepts and theories from other fields. However, imported theories have often been developed to understand fundamental different phenomena, and theories are products of time and place in which they have been developed. Each theory has its own history and assumptions on which it is based, and a mismatch between the basic assumptions in the theory and the phenomenon may result in inclusive or even incorrect findings and a misinterpretation of the phenomenon that we study. Thus, in the ENT Historian Committee we want to stimulate a solid “groundwork” in our research by an increased understanding of the historical roots and antecedents of the concepts and theories that we use in entrepreneurship research.

Third, entrepreneurship research is highly related to policy and entrepreneurial practice, and there might be an assumption that the policies and practices are always the best available. However, history has taught us that what is best for one place and time will not always work in other contexts, and policies and practices need to change over time. In the ENT Historian Committee we want to promote the understanding of a historical contextual perspective when discussing entrepreneurship policies and practices.

With these arguments in mind, it is the aim of the ENT Historian Committee to preserve the importance of history in entrepreneurship research, and stimulate a historical interest among the members of the Entrepreneurship Division.

Action plan for 2013-2015

In the ENT Historian Committee we have decided on an action plan for the coming years – approved by ENT Executive Committee at the Mid-Winter Meeting 2013 – included in the plan are the following objectives:

  • Information strategy (e.g. creating a forum at the ENT Division web-site with the title “Learn more about the history of entrepreneurship research”, and produce new videos with the oral history of pioneers in the ENT Division).
  • Organizing events at the Academy of Management Meetings.
  • Research projects (e.g. follow-up studies of the winners of the Heizer Best Dissertation Award, the NFIB Dissertation Award, and the Mentor Award within ENT Division).
  • Web-based PhD course on the History of Entrepreneurship Research.

Pioneer Profiles

William B. Gartner

William B. GartnerWilliam B. Gartner is an American entrepreneurship scholar and Professor of Entrepreneurship and the Art of Innovation, at the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. He is also Professor of Entrepreneurship at the California Lutheran University in the US.

Gartner is considered a pioneer within his field, known for his belief in a behavioral approach and narrative methodology in entrepreneurship research. He was one of the first scholars within the field who advocated a shift from focusing on the individual traits of the entrepreneur, which was common during the 70s and 80s, to studying entrepreneurship as a behavioral process (Landström 2010).

Read more: William B. Gartner

Patricia P. McDougall-Covin

Patricia P. McDougall-CovinPatricia P. McDougall-Covin is an American scholar in the fields of Strategic Management, Entrepreneurship and International Business. She is Professor of Entrepreneurship and the Director of the Institute for International Business at Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. McDougall is considered a pioneering scholar of entrepreneurship and strategic management and she has made significant contributions to the knowledge of multinational enterprise (Kelly school of business, 2015).

Read more: Patricia P. McDougall-Covin

Arnold C. Cooper

Arnold C. CooperProfessor Arnold Cooper (March 9, 1933 – December 6, 2012) was a management scholar and a pioneer in the field of entrepreneurship and strategic management. During his academic career, that spanned over 40 years, Arnold Cooper made several significant contributions to the overall knowledge in the field of entrepreneurship. He also played a significant part in organizing the research field and he helped the elevation of entrepreneurship research to a higher academic level (Landström, 2010).

Read more: Arnold C. Cooper

Karl H. Vesper

Karl H. VesperKarl Hampton Vesper (b. 1932) is an American scholar and Professor emeritus of Management, Mechanical Engineering and Marine Studies at the University of Washington(WA). Vesper is known as a pioneer in the field of entrepreneurship research and education. He has launched several entrepreneurship courses and programs, and he has been involved in organizing some of the first conferences on entrepreneurship in the US (Spears school of business 2015).

Read more: Karl H. Vesper