Muppets and Gazelles: Political and Methodological Biases in Entrepreneurship Research

Industrial and Corporate Change, Forthcoming

26 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2013  

Paul Nightingale

University of Sussex - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU)

Alex Coad

CENTRUM Catolica Graduate Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 28, 2013

Abstract

Despite an almost universally accepted belief outside academia that entrepreneurial activity is a positive driving force in the economy, the accumulated evidence remains largely inconclusive. The paper positions the increased interest in entrepreneurship since the 1980s within its historical context and highlights the significant methodological problems with its analysis. Taking these problems into account it re-evaluates the performance of entrepreneurial firms in terms of innovation, job creation, economic growth, productivity growth, and happiness to show how both positive and negative interpretations can emerge. A pattern of increasingly positive interpretation is observed as one moves from analysis to policy. To address this bias, the paper suggests the single category 'entrepreneurial firms' be broken up along a continuum from the large number of economically marginal, undersized, poor performance enterprises to the small number of high performance "gazelles" that drive most positive impact on the economy. This would allow a more realistic evaluation of the impact of entrepreneurs by avoiding a composition fallacy that assigns the benefits of entrepreneurship to the average firm.

Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Job creation, Self-employment, New firm formation, Innovation

JEL Classification: L26, M13, J24

Suggested Citation

Nightingale, Paul and Coad, Alex, Muppets and Gazelles: Political and Methodological Biases in Entrepreneurship Research (August 28, 2013). Industrial and Corporate Change, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2317382

Paul Nightingale

University of Sussex - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU) ( email )

Mantell Building
Falmer
Brighton BN1 9RF, East Sussex
United Kingdom

Alex Coad (Contact Author)

CENTRUM Catolica Graduate Business School ( email )

1801 Universitaria Avenue
San Miguel
Lima, Lima Lima32
Peru

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