The Future of Entrepreneurial Research

Posted: 17 Nov 2009

See all articles by H. G. J. Aitken

H. G. J. Aitken

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 1963


Reflects upon the foundational past ofentrepreneurial studies to make conjectures about the directions of futureresearch. From the mid-1940s to early 1960s, the study of entrepreneurshipamong members of the Harvard Research Center in Entrepreneurial History wascharacterized by a marked ambiguity concerning definitions, assumptions, andmethods. However, there emerged a fundamental agreement to disagree, thusencouraging diversity and lively discussion, so that gradually studies becamemore substantial, research more accurate. Beyond minor differences of opinion,fundamental areas of agreement surfaced: entrepreneurship as characteristic offirms rather than individuals, as relational between individuals and firms, andfirms and societies, and as characteristic of all organized human activity.Thus, entrepreneurship became synonymous with business organization, which isdefined as an ongoing process rather than a fixed state. The optimal process of organization is one that allows for flexibility, growth,and innovation. Studies of entrepreneurship have therefore necessarily focusedon the organization of behavior as a determinant of economic success. Futurestudies will continue to be concerned with organization at all levels, changeand innovation remaining particular areas of interest. Economic historians willbe interested in the social structures and cultural configurations that shapeorganization and change -- and, consequently, the conditions forentrepreneurship. The historically speculative, intellectual spirit ofentrepreneurial studies should serve to counterbalance the quantitative,mathematical trends toward which the discipline is heading. (CJC)

Keywords: Entrepreneurship research, Organizational structures, History, Academic research, Academic fields, Organizational behavior

Suggested Citation

Aitken, H. G. J., The Future of Entrepreneurial Research (1963). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership Historical Research Reference in Entrepreneurship, Available at SSRN:

H. G. J. Aitken (Contact Author)

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