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Guest editors' introduction: Alternative perspectives on entrepreneurship research : Alternative perspectives on entrepreneurship research

Jennings, Peter L. and Perren, Lew and Carter, Sara (2005) Guest editors' introduction: Alternative perspectives on entrepreneurship research : Alternative perspectives on entrepreneurship research. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 29 (2). pp. 145-152. ISSN 1042-2587

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Abstract

Burrell and Morgan's (1979) classic text Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis is as relevant now as it was when first published a quarter of a century ago. Central to Burrell and Morgan's thesis is the idea that "all theories of organisation are based upon a philosophy of science and a theory of society" (2003, p. 1). Either explicitly or implicitly, researchers base their work on a series of philosophical assumptions regarding ontology, epistemology, and human nature, which have methodological consequences. Within each of these assumptions, the extreme positions are reflected in "sociological positivism" (realist ontology, positivist epistemology, deterministic view of human nature, nomothetic methodologies) and, in opposition, "German idealism" (subjective ontology, antipositivist epistemology, voluntarist view of human nature, ideographic methodologies). Similarly, researchers hold differing views about the nature of society, underpinned by further assumptions, and reflected in Burrell and Morgan's distinction between regulation and radical change. Researchers adhering to the "regulation" perspective attempt to explain society in terms that emphasize its underlying cohesiveness. Their concerns are with the status quo, social order, consensus, social integration, solidarity, individual or system needs satisfaction, and actuality. In contrast, the "radical change" perspective is concerned with explaining structural conflict, modes of domination, contradiction, emancipation, deprivation, and potentiality.