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The Theoretical World of Entrepreneurship

  • 1.  The Theoretical World of Entrepreneurship

    Posted 05-12-2021 08:31

    After working in doctoral education for 25 years, I became concerned that students were only being exposed to a small corner of what the field had learned about entrepreneurship.  Then, I realized that as scholars that we tend to work in our own research silos-probably those that we mastered in our own doctoral education.

     Focusing on what we know best develops expertise and helps the field to advance.  However, it also results in a condition that I refer to as academic autobiography, which limits our vision of the field to how we were trained, which could be quite different from what entrepreneurs face.  When we interact with others with different training, we may find ourselves involved in paradigm battles--not debates about the most appropriate way to understand the theoretical world of entrepreneurship, but contests over whose paradigm should dominate.  Experience has taught me that I can learn from anyone who has studied a topic.  In fact, I have built my own career on the shoulders of others who have performed pioneering work.

     The question for me was how to expand our limited common body of knowledge?  How can we foster more inter-paradigm discussions that lead to productive outcomes?  Or, even more basically, how can we be sure that we are using the most refined theoretical lens if we are not sure what our options are?  My answer has been to create a compendium of more than 250 entrepreneurship theories while, to the extent possible, specifying their assumptions and boundary conditions.  As examples, it contains the following:

    • 22 General theories
    • 57 theories on process and milestone achievement
    • 23 theories on entrepreneurial context
    • 27 theories of the family firm
    • 12 theories of the economics of entrepreneurship
    • 8 theories of the psychological view of entrepreneurship
    • 21 theories of social entrepreneurship
    • 9 theories of entrepreneurial decision-making
    • 4 theories of structural explanations
    • 4 theories on environmental influences
    • 52 relevant societal debates
    • Doctrines of 16 Christian denominations
    • Doctrines of 8 world religions

     My goal is ensure that these compendium discussions are as accurate, concise and relevant as possible.  I am looking for expert volunteers to review topics.  For the purposes of this request, please consider yourself an expert if you have published 3 articles on a topic.  Don't worry that your expertise is not one of the topics.  More than likely, it is included.

     If you are willing, please advise me by email.  I will send you individual write-ups for your review, which you can return with corrections noted in track-changes.  My hope is that you could complete your review within 30 days.  I think your help to ensure that the field has convenient access to correct information will be providing a valuable professional service.

     Due to copyright restrictions, please do not request information about more than the topics that you plan to review.  The completed work should be available next summer.

     Much appreciation in advance,


     Dr. James O. Fiet
    Brown Forman Chair in Entrepreneurship
    Department of Management and Entrepreneurship
    University of Louisville,
    Louisville, KY 40292
    502 645 2536

    James Fiet
    University of Louisville
    Louisville KY
    (502) 852-4793