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Sten K. Johnson Centre for Entrepreneurship

Lund University School of Economics and Management

How can we make our research interesting?

Published: 2018-12-20

New publication by Hans Landström and Gouya Harirchi.

“That’s interesting” in entrepreneurship research?

It has become increasingly important for entrepreneurship researchers (as well as for researchers in other fields) to be published and be quoted. This means that the research performed needs to be of interest and to ”stick out”. In the article of Landström (Sten K. Johnson Centre for Entrepreneurship, Lund University School of Economics and Management) and Harirchi (University of Trieste and LBG OIS Center) the authors examine what is seen as interesting among entrepreneurship researchers and why, but also how the entrepreneurship researchers differ from management researchers in general. The study is based on the responses from 915 researchers within the entrepreneurship field worldwide.

The result shows that entrepreneurship is a highly topic driven research field, where a number of ”hot topics” has been developed at different points in time and in different contexts. What is seen as interesting is often related to the number of actors  a specific topic has got an impact on, i.e social entrepreneurship and policy-related research impact a large number of people and is therefore viewed as interesting. ”Relevance for external actors” is something that comes back in the view of what is interesting. But it is not only the specific topics that makes entrepreneurship research interesting. Other factors that will lead to the research being viewed as interesting can be related to new and challenging issues, but also research that is synthesising already existing research in a specific area – this need to gather existing knowledge is perhaps something that is specific to fast-growing and fragmented research fields.

However, the image is not clear, and entrepreneurship is a fragmented research field. In the study we identify groups of researchers ("clusters") who consider what is interesting in different ways. For example, we find researchers who "require" that everything in a research work should be perfect for viewing it as interesting while others are content with the research question being challenging or that the results are relevant to external actors. The differences are related, inter alia, to the context (in Europe we consider what is interesting in a little different way than our American colleagues), but also the academic position plays a part (PhD students have a different view than professors).

In conclusion the article is giving some advice on how to make our research in entrepreneurship more interesting, such as in terms of the formulation of research questions, the development of the theory, the design of the method in the study, and the results of the studies. How we communicate our research is of course also important, and in the article the authors discuss how we can make our articles more interesting in terms of emphasizing the "new" in the article and writing in a way that makes the reader understand.

Landström, H., Harirchi, G. (2018) ""That’s interesting” in entrepreneurship research?", Journal of Small Business Management