Handbook of Research Methods on Social Entrepreneurship
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Handbook of Research Methods on Social Entrepreneurship

Edited by Richard Seymour

Defining ‘social entrepreneurship’ has in the past proved problematic, and debate continues concerning what it does and does not entail and encompass. This unique book frames the debates surrounding the phenomenon and argues that many of the difficulties relating to the study of social entrepreneurship are rooted in methodological issues. Highlighting these issues, the book sets out ideas and implications for researchers using alternative methodologies.
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Chapter 2: Researching Social Entrepreneurship

Richard G. Seymour


Richard G. Seymour Chapter 1 of the Handbook has introduced this thing that we call ‘social entrepreneurship’. This second chapter develops the research journey by focussing on a researcher’s ways of thinking. The chapter emphasises the significance and importance of philosophies of science for social entrepreneurship researchers. Though occasionally referring to social entrepreneurship research, this chapter is anchored in examples from entrepreneurship research in general (whether commercial or social). This chapter is organised as follows. It first introduces how philosophies of science can impact upon researchers. This opening is followed by a review of the impact of these alternative perspectives, with the review organised into four broad areas: opportunity, management, markets and the entrepreneur. The chapter then reviews how each of these ‘extreme’ perspectives alone cannot be entirely appropriate, and why a researcher should be aware of their prioritisation. The chapter concludes that alternative research methodologies may benefit the social entrepreneurship researcher. 2.1 PHILOSOPHIES OF SCIENCE DO IMPACT UPON RESEARCHERS A researcher is required (implicitly or explicitly) to understand examined reality and being (ontology), the relationship between that reality and the researcher (epistemology) and the theoretical analysis of the techniques used by a researcher to understand that reality (methodology) (Perry et al., 1999; Denzin and Lincoln, 2003; Lincoln and Guba, 2003). Methods (those techniques used by researchers) result from that earlier analysis, and are mere tactics or strategies to support a research project (Noorderhaven, 2004; Prasad, 2005). For a social entrepreneurship researcher, then, methodology is an important place to start,...

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