Social Structuration of the Field of Entrepreneurship: A Case Study Richard Dery Jean-Marie Toulousekcole des Hautes ktudes Commerciales 授課老師：李元德 教授 報 告 人：博一研究生 高 秉 毅
Abstract As part of the emergence of an epistemology specific to the field ofentrepreneurship research, this article aims to reveal the social structuration ofknowledge in entrepreneurship, through the empirical study of articles publishedin the Journal of Business Venturing between its founding in 1986, and 1993. This research, by virtue of its empirical approach based on methods ofnetwork analysis widely used in the sociology of science and technology, tendsto substitute a social representation of the field of entrepreneurship research forthe essentially cognitive and formal representation characteristic of mostepistemological reflections in this field. At the end of this study, the field of entrepreneurship research appears as anintricate network, where researchers and institutions are involved in a social andcollective game of strategic struggles and alliances. Furthermore, this field of research appears as a largely fragmented spacefraught with the traps inherent to disciplinary introversion.
Emergence of an Epistemology of Entrepreneurship ResearchAlready rooted in a long tradition of research, withramifications extending to the borders of political economyand opening onto a variety of seminal works, the problematic ofentrepreneurship was structured into a true field of researchduring the 1980s.There is much evidence of this. The corpus of texts publishedon entrepreneurship has grown exponentially; scientific journalsand associations devoted to entrepreneurship have been founded;conferences have been organized; research centres have beeninaugurated or, at least, rendered more visible; university coursesand programmes of study in entrepreneurship have beeninstituted, and so on.
Emergence of an Epistemology of Entrepreneurship Research Putting its own stamp on the self-reflexivity characteristicof modernity (Giddens, 1990, 1991) and joining the contemporarymovement to develop epistemologies specific to the differentfields of research, the epistemology of entrepreneurship research is mainly dominated by theoretical and methodologicalconsiderations. T wentieth-century epistemology is marked by emergingsystems based on empirical research, a descriptive andomprehensive approach which replaces a resolutely normative one, and research scenarios featuring historical and sociologicalperspectives rather than the essentially formal and philosophical ones dominant at the turn of the century.
Emergence of an Epistemology of Entrepreneurship Research Working from within the structuration trends haracteristicof contemporary epistemology, this article contributes to theemerging epistemology of entrepreneurship research. This is done by gearing our reflection to an empirical approachbased on the theoretical and methodological contributions of thesociology of science and technology, which are currently frontstage centre in epistemological debates. Such an approach requires choosing a theoretical option as towhat the field of entrepreneurship actually is and then onfrontingthis option with empirical reality.
Social Construction of the Field of Entrepreneurship ResearchRepresenting the field of entrepreneurship research In terms ofsocial construction is part and parcel of a search to understand theconcrete practices of entrepreneurship research. It is therefore not a matter of establishing criteria to evaluate thescientific value of existing knowledge, designing researchprotocols to guarantee the scientific value of findings, or proposingavenues of research, study perspectives and paradigms capable ofunifying the efforts of researchers in the field.It is, rather, a matter of understanding how the commoncompetitive arena of entrepreneurship research is concretelystructured by the social and collective interplay among members ofthe field and participating institutions.
Social Construction of the Field of Entrepreneurship ResearchIn order to shed light on the social construction ofentrepreneurship research, it is important to note that the variety ofknowledge is rooted in, among other things, the social context ofresearch, and that it is this context which must be elucidated if weare to understand this variety (Whitley, 1984~)the field of entrepreneurship research is perpetually tombetween the expectations of the researchers in the first sphere andthe entrepreneurs in the second.Entrepreneurship research is, in a sense, caught between twoprojects: the development of scientific knowledge related to therealities of entrepreneurship, and active participation in thoserealities.
Social Construction of the Field of Entrepreneurship Research As a rule, the very definition of validity in entrepreneurshipresearch is the main stake in social relations. The race to gaincontrol over this definition is manifested on two levels. On the one hand, researchers who take up the debate aredirectly involved in the development of knowledge. On the other hand, the debate takes place in institutions which foster entrepreneurship research. At this level, researchers engage in relations of cooperation and competition, with a view To gaining control over theinstitutions involved in concrete research projects.
Object and Method of Research Our study concerns the 237 articles published in the Journal of Business Venturing between its founding in 1986, and 1993. Analysis of the corpus was based on co-citation analysis widely used in the sociology of science and technology and in scientomertry. In administrative studies, scientometrical analysis has been used mainly in marketing, finance, accounting,management informance systems, and organizational behaviour.
Object and Method of Research Wether in sociology of science or in administrative studies, scientometrical analysis has been used in particular to establish the influence─measured by the number of citations─of authors, titles, and periodicals in the construction of a given field. This research was accomplished in three methodological stages. In the first stage, the social content of the 237 articles studies was revealed through an inventory of three sociological markers: the authors, the institutions with which they are affiliated, and the references cited in each article.
Object and Method of Research In the seccond stage, the occurrence matrix was transformed into two co-occurrence matrices─one for the articls, the other for all the refernces in those articles.• The first co-occurrence matrix shows classic co-author and co- institution networks.• The second co-occurrence matrix was used to analyze the references by studying the co-citation. In the third stage, the reference co-occurrence martix shows all the reference networks according to a threshold of citations and co-occurences.
Description of Findings General Portrait of the Corpus• As can be seen from Table 1, in eight years the Journal of Business Venturing (JBV) published a total of 237 articles by 280 different authors, 84 of whom contributed more than one article. Through these authors, a total of 149 institutions (almost all universities) have taken part in constructing the field of entrepreneurship research. Of this number, only 45.6% appear more than once in the corpus.• The articles published in the JBVcontain 3,714 differentreferences, the vast majority of which appear only once. These 3,714 titles were written by 2,989 different authors, the majority of them being cited only once.
Description of Findings Networks of Authors and Institutions• Analysis of the 143 groups of authors in the corpus brings to light the network of co-author relations among researchers publishing in the JBV, as well as the network of relations among institutions that these concrete co- author relations construct, whether implicitly or not (see Figures 1 and 2).• Largely dominated by its editor, I.C. MacMillan, whose name appears as co-author for 26 of the 237 articles in the corpus, the JBV‘s network of co- author relations is an intricate weave of authors from a multiplicity of only loosely connected subnetworks. Seven main subnetworks headed by MacMillan, Bygrave, Cooper, Kanter, Birley, Gartner, and Robinson emerge from the global network. Furthermore, the network organized around MacMillan consists of three completely unrelated subnetworks.
Description of Findings The Network of References• Etles. With regard to the most frequently cited texts in the corpus and the co-citations linking them, the field of entrepreneurship, as used by the authors publishing in JBV, takes the form of a network composed of two main subnetworks organized around different research problematics (see Figure 3).• As the network mapped out in Figure 4 clearly reveals, authors publishing in the JBV collectively con-struct, through their reference-making practices, a very tight-knit network of periodicals. Indeed, out of a theoretical possibility of 28 relations among the network’s 8 periodicals, we note 26 empirical relations, which give rise to 1,112 co-periodical citations.
Interpretation of Findings Structuration Trends• Social fragmentation. Study of the references in the corpus’ articles clearly indicates that the field of entrepreneurship is characterized by the fragmentation of social relations among its members. There is already a hint of this fragmentation in the 3,714 different titles cited by the authors in the corpus, but it is made most obvious by the fact that a vast majority of the references (75.9%) are used only once and that less than 12% of the titles are cited more than twice.• Struggles and alliances. Second characteristic of the social structuration of the corpus, the game of struggles and alliances is apparent in co-author and co-institution relations, as well as in the reference networks.• Disciplinary space (Amit et al., 1993; Bygrave, 1989a; Low & MacMillan, 1988; MacMillan & Katz, 1992; Wortman, 1986, 1987), the field of entrepreneurship, as revealed by this study, is both more and less of a discipline than is commonly asserted.
Interpretation of Findings From Epistemological Norms to Concrete Research• The variety of knowledge. Whether viewed as a problem to be solved or as a sign of cognitive vitality, the variety of knowledge here appears to be the result of social relations.• The imbrication of disciplines. While certain authors such as Bygrave (1989a) have, identified theoretical networks of disciplines used in the study of entrepreneurship, a completely different network of disciplines is collectively and concretely constructed by the authors publishing in the JBV.• Relative importance of places of publication. This study also makes it possible to add some nuances to MacMillan’s (1993) ranking of entrepreneurship journals.
Interpretation of Findings Research Problematics• Though the present study reveals fragmentation to be one of the field’s main characteristics, study of the core of references does bring to light a network of research problematics around which the field of entrepreneurship seems to be organized and where there is some sort of coherence (Figure 3).• This competition in some sort actualizes a highly structured version of the classic oppositions found in the field: micro/macro, characteristics of entrepreneurs/entrepreneurial processes, and voluntarism/determinism.
Limitations and Future Research• In conclusion, we would like to point out the limitations of this study and outline ways in which it might be followed up. In the first place, its main limitation is its singular character. In choosing a case study, what one gains in control and depth, one loses in the possibility of applying the results obtained to the whole field of entrepreneurship.• Secondly, the research sketches a static portrait, whereas structuration of the field is dynamic. The research thus offers an ahistorical image of this structuration.• Thirdly, in confining the study to the sociological markers found in the articles, the research masks the links between the theoretical and methodological content of the articles studied and the structuration movements it reveals.• Finally, although co-citation analysis methods made it possible to construct the characteristic networks involved in the social structuration of the corpus studied, they alone are not enough to exhaust the sociological complexity of the corpus.