Discursive and narrative perspectives of entrepreneurship and small firms: a systematic literature review

Lew Perren, Peter Jennings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article reports the outcomes arising from a systematic review of empirical papers that take a discursive and narrative perspective of entrepreneurship and small firms and which were published in the International Small Business Journal (ISBJ). Papers were mapped against two overarching paradigms: the analytic surface of the investigation represented on a continuum ranging from micro-interaction to macro-representation and the perspective of society represented on a continuum ranging from radical to regulation. Combined, these continua provided a conceptual map of the territory against which other dimensions of research could also be plotted. The review reveals that discursive and narrative techniques offer an under-exploited potential to contribute towards much needed theory development in the field. Researchers appear under pressure to present „policy relevant‟ findings and hence, lean towards micro-representation with a regulation orientation at the expense of pursuing macro-representation and radical orientation. As interest grows in discursive and narrative approaches it is hoped the range of analysis techniques being utilised will expand with a resultant increase in the sophistication of outcomes. Further development of the embryonic „internal conversation‟ within journals such as ISBJ is to be encouraged to accelerate the learning amongst researchers and expand the boundaries of knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Small Business Journal
Issue numberVirtual special issue
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2012


  • Discourse: Narrative
  • literature review
  • entrepreneurship
  • small business


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