1 Centre for Organizational Renewal and Evolution (CORE), Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University2 Department of Management, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University3 ASB4 Department of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University5 Department of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University
Much entrepreneurship research is informed by two central lines of thought. One focuses on the role of formal and informal social networks for mobilising resources and obtaining information about new markets etc. The other departs from assumptions about individual personality traits as the independent variable behind entrepreneurship activity. Elaborating on anthropological theories, this paper presents a coherent theoretical framework for entrepreneurship research embracing the social dimensions as well as individual factors involved in the phenomenon of entrepreneurship. We argue that central aspects of entrepreneurship are to be found by connecting the social and subjective levels of analysis as part of the same dialectic process. This is based on the observation that networks of actors and resources do not exist in themselves. They are maintained or transformed through the concrete actions and interactions of actors. On the other hand, entrepreneurial actions do not happen in a social vacuum. To gain success they must be supported by formal and often informal access to resources and information through social and business relations. Social relations in local clusters of actors or transnational relations play an important role here. As we argued, further research could combine the study of local or international relations between actors with an understanding of how individual actors actually transact and exchange resources and information. We argue that the proposed framework presents a conceptually integrated view of the entrepreneurial process. This view embraces different research methods; quantitative as well as qualitative. However, it is our argument that indebt investigations producing thick descriptions can provide valuable new knowledge to the field. How the resources and information available for entrepreneurial ventures actually is employed and integrated into entrepreneurial processes thus depend on the subjective knowledge, skills and motivations of actors. The question of how is difficult to describe trough statistical methods and structured interviews alone. Similar answers, applying this methodological approach, may conceal different ways in which actors actually perceive the same challenges and exploit their networks for obtaining resources and information about new markets etc. These different strategies may be informed by variations in experiential knowledge and skills that are not necessarily verbalised in formal interview situations or in a questionnaire. The kind of data related to this level of knowledge is difficult to obtain after the fact by viewing the entrepreneurial action as an accomplished task. Hence, the analytical framework proposed supports the use of quantitative methods revealing larger patterns but supplemented by qualitative methods for obtaining data on the 'modus operandi' of entrepreneurs. The latter may reveal crucial factors facilitating or hindering entrepreneurial processes. Factors that are lost in statistical correspondence.