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NOTE: Since 2009 the title of the International Journal of Entrepreneurship Education (IJEE) has been changed to the title above.  ISSN numbers: IJEE 1649-2269 and IRE 2009-2822

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ISSN Number: 2009-2822. Frequency: 4 Issues per year (online only)  

Choosing the Most Viable Research Methodology for Studying Entrepreneurial Success Factors

IRE Vol 10: Issue 2, 2012, Pages 47-64

Author(s): B.M. Lowder and Angelia D.M. Williams (Saint Leo University, USA)

The meaning of entrepreneurial success can vary, depending upon whom you ask. Further, a majority of entrepreneurial success factors are directly related to the entrepreneur's human experiences. Thus, research specific to the entrepreneur’s “human experiences” as they correlate to entrepreneurial success factors is relatively new. The paper begins with an exploratory and comparative analysis of various research methodologies as a means of analyzing and selecting one of the three operative paradigms to study entrepreneurial success factors including analytical, actors, and systems approaches. In essence, this paper compares and contrasts the quantitative survey methodology and the qualitative phenomenological methodology to determine the most thoroughly aligned methodology for studying entrepreneurial success factors. Most entrepreneurial success factors discussed in the analysis relate to human experience and behavior. Thus, it appears that a sound approach entails an actor’s operative paradigm that is grounded in systems theory. The paper presents an argument that the qualitative phenomenological methodology is best aligned with the requirements of a researcher who uses the actors operative paradigm. This selection is based on the premise that the qualitative phenomenological methodology affords the researcher greater potential to generate the richest and most viable data set in addition to a higher likelihood of significant discovery of unknown variables and constructs. Moreover, the qualitative phenomenological method provides the researcher with greater flexibility in analyzing the rich data set providing a better opportunity for substantial research conclusions based on real-world entrepreneurial experiences (Clark, 1998; Conger, 1998; Huberman & Miles, 1994; Morgan & Smircich, 1980; Munck, 1998). In conclusion, the use of an actor’s operative paradigm that is grounded in systems theory and combined with the qualitative, phenomenological research methodology appears to provide the most viable research plan for studying entrepreneurial success factors, particularly when the research question is based on the construct of discovery

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