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Renew or regress : maintaining a forum for radical entrepreneurship scholarship

Casulli, Lucrezia and Chalmers, Dominic and Drakopoulou Dodd, Sarah and Matthews, Russell and Stoyanov, Stoyan (2017) Renew or regress : maintaining a forum for radical entrepreneurship scholarship. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research, 23 (2). pp. 1-6. ISSN 1355-2554

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In September 2016, the esteemed New York University Professor Paul Romer (2016) published an excoriating critique of his own academic discipline, entitled “The Trouble With Macroeconomics”. He identified a “general failure mode of science” in which a scholarly community can stagnate or even regress owing to insularity and the marginalisation of non-mainstream thought. He took specific aim at complex theoretical modelling in econometrics that has become so abstracted as to have untethered from reality. Often, he argues quite scathingly, the resultant “post-real” theory has failed to reflect the broad scope of human motivations or behaviours it proposes to explain. Romer concludes that any field with a reliance on abstract mathematical modelling is prone to such failure, a fact underlined by the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane who acknowledges that “the economics profession is to some degree in crisis” (Wallace 2017: 1). So, where does this leave the field of entrepreneurship, and what lessons can the research community take from the apparent demise of macroeconomics? Firstly, we conclude that the scholarly field meets Romer’s conditions for being susceptible to ‘failure’ in that it is largely mathematically based, with van Burg and Romme (2014: 372) finding that “most entrepreneurship studies published in leading journals draw on positivism, by emphasizing hypothesis testing, inferential statistics, and internal validity”. Furthermore, there is strong group identification within the discipline, with many entrepreneurship scholars appearing to hold a passionate belief in entrepreneurship as something that should be advocated and propagated in a way other social scientists are simply not inclined to do for their subject.