"WHO IS AN ENTREPRENEUR?" IS IT S...
23 Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal, Volume 13 Number 1, 2007 ���WHO IS AN ENTREPRENEUR?��� IS IT STILL THE WRONG QUESTION? Brian McKenzie, California State University, East Bay Steve D. Ugbah, California State University, East Bay Norman Smothers, California State University, East Bay ABSTRACT William Gartner���s 1988 article ���Who is an Entrepreneur?��� Is the Wrong Question suggested that more productive research into entrepreneurship could result from shifting the unit of analysis from the individual level to the functional level. Eighteen years later, it does not appear that the research resulting from this shift has produced agreement on the most appropriate definition of entrepreneurship. This paper compares three definitions of entrepreneurship currently being discussed by scholars and offers a fourth definition, which brings the unit of analysis back to the level of the individual. The paper reviews the literature defining the domain of entrepreneurship including the proposed new definition, develops a number of scenarios, tests each scenario against competing domain statements and concludes that the time has come to re-visit the individual as entrepreneur. INTRODUCTION In 1988, Gartner, published an article in American Journal of Small Business titled ���Who Is an Entrepreneur?��� Is the Wrong Question (Gartner, 1988). The article called for a sea change in the direction of entrepreneurship research away from the study of entrepreneurial personality traits towards the study of organization emergence. Gartner (1988, p.21) claimed that previous indicative definitions of entrepreneurship led to disagreement about the nature of the phenomenon being studied and called for acceptance of a functional definition of entrepreneurship. Gartner (1988, p.26) proposed the definition: ���Entrepreneurship is the creation of new organizations���. The article has been widely cited in the entrepreneurship literature and a number of researchers have successfully used the Gartner definition to simplify and thus operationalize the constructs ���entrepreneur��� and ���entrepreneurship��� in empirical studies (Chrisman et al., 1990 Cooper et al., 1997 Gatewood et al., 1995). However, Gartner���s definition has been criticized for narrowing (Katz, 1992, p.31 Lumpkin & Dess, 1996, p.162) and de-contextualizing (Bruyat & Julien, 2001, p.171 Reynolds, 1991, p.47)
24 Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal, Volume 13, Number 1, 2007 entrepreneurship as a field of investigation. Van de Ven (1993, pp. 212-214) criticized both the study of personality traits and the study of entrepreneurial behaviors as inadequately covering the process of entrepreneurship in the context of its social, economic and political infrastructure. The last decade has extended the focus of entrepreneurship research to include entrepreneurial behavior, opportunity recognition, choice of organizational form and the importance of the social environment (Ucbasaran et al., 2001, p.69). However, the larger challenge of linking entrepreneurship research to the rest of the social sciences has largely been ignored. Low (2001) has suggested that: Providing insight into the link between micro-level entrepreneurial action and macro-level economic progress is a potentially huge intellectual contribution of our field (Low 2001, p.20). Low (2001, p.24) is suggesting that entrepreneurship scholars need to absorb some of their own teaching (i.e. become entrepreneurial) so that entrepreneurship research can influence academics in other fields. A more important criticism of Gartner���s definition could be that it has not significantly changed the nature of entrepreneurship research. What entrepreneurship researchers have been doing, by and large, has been collecting survey information using questionnaires. This observation is confirmed by a number of state of the art of entrepreneurship research articles written between 1982 and 1997 (Aldrich, 1992 Aldrich & Baker, 1997 Churchill & Lewis, 1986 Paulin et al., 1982 Wortman, 1986) as well as by a similar study done in 2001 (Chandler, 2001). These studies classified research presented at the Babson Kauffman Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BKERC) and articles published in the top entrepreneurship journals by their subject matter and research methodologies. Brief comments on the prevailing methodology found in each of these studies are summarized in Table 1. As Table 1 shows, these studies have all described the administration of questionnaires as the dominant method of data collection amongst entrepreneurship researchers. Research based upon questionnaire surveys faces the difficulty of concise measurement. Entrepreneurship, as it has been described in the literature, is about contingency (Sarasvathy, 2002, p.106), creation (Meyer et al., 2000), market pioneering (Covin et al., 2000, p.177), newness (Gartner & Brush, 1999, p.7) and organization initiation (Aldrich & Martinez, 2001, p.42). These constructs do not lend themselves to the linear measurement of surveys and questionnaires (Bygrave, 1989, p.28). This paper investigates whether or not ���Who is an entrepreneur?��� is still the wrong question. The paper poses two research questions: (1) ���Is entrepreneurship limited to the business context?��� and (2) ���Can concepts from the field of entrepreneurship be applied to other fields of endeavor such as the arts, science, social development?��� In answering these questions, the author calls for adoption of a more inclusive definition of entrepreneurship, suggesting a broad definition: ���Entrepreneurship involves individuals and groups of individuals seeking and exploiting economic opportunity.���
25 Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal, Volume 13 Number 1, 2007 The paper reviews the literature defining the domain of entrepreneurship including the proposed new definition. The paper develops a number of scenarios, tests each scenario against competing domain statements and discusses the contribution entrepreneurship literature could make to other disciplines. Table 1: Summary of Entrepreneurship Research Design Studies Article Title n Findings ���Entrepreneurship research: Methods and directions��� 81 ���Sample survey was by far the most common entrepreneurship research strategy, employed in 64 % of the sampled studies.��� (Paulin et al., 1982, 357) ���A unified framework, research typologies and research prospectuses for the interface between entrepreneurship and small business��� 51 ���Throughout these studies, the use of mail questionnaires and interviews with structured or non-structured schedules is the overwhelming type of research methods used by most researchers.��� (Wortman, 1986, 277) ���Entrepreneurship research: Directions and methods��� 298 ���An examination of the methodologies utilized in the research studies shows a preponderance (77%) of observational and contemplative theory building and surveys and few (less than 4%) field studies.��� (Churchill & Lewis, 1986, 345) ���Methods in our madness? Trends in entrepreneurship research��� 322 ���Investigators still relied heavily upon nonsystematic methods of data collection, and when they ventured out to collect data, they depended heavily upon surveys.��� (Aldrich, 1992, 199) ���Blinded by the cites? Has there been progress in entrepreneurship research?��� 528 ���Research design and sources of data have not changed very much over the past 15 years, other than a decisive break with journalistic and armchair methods by the journals after 1985.���(Aldrich & Baker, 1997, 383) ���Issues of research design and construct measurement in entrepreneurship research: The past decade��� 416 ���Seventy five percent of the empirical papers used primary data. Of the studies using primary data, 66% used paper surveys, 25% used interview methodologies, 3% used phone interviews, 4% used experiments. Only four studies (2%) used participant observation.��� (Chandler & Lyon, 2001, 104). LITERATURE REVIEW A constant in the nature of entrepreneurship research has been the fluidity of the boundaries of the domain. Entrepreneurship has welcomed studies from economics (Casson, 1982), sociology (Thornton, 1999), anthropology (Dana, 1995), psychology (Carsrud & Krueger, 1995), political science (T. Homer-Dixon, 1995) and the arts (Hoving, 1993). The field has been so inclusive as to