Guest editors' introduction: alternative perspectives on entrepreneurship research

Peter L. Jennings, Lew Perren, Sara Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article emphasizes the need for alternative perspectives in entrepreneurship research. Burrell and Morgan's classic text Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis is as relevant now as it was when first published a quarter of a century ago. Central to Burrell and Morgan's thesis is the idea that all theories of organization are based upon a philosophy of science and a theory of society. Either explicitly or implicitly, researchers base their work on a series of philosophical assumptions regarding ontology, epistemology, and human nature, which have methodological consequences. Within each of these assumptions, the extreme positions are reflected in sociological positivism and, in opposition, German idealism. Similarly, researchers hold differing views about the nature of society, underpinned by further assumptions, and reflected in Burrell and Morgan's distinction between regulation and radical change. Researchers adhering to the regulation perspective attempt to explain society in terms that emphasize its underlying cohesiveness. Their concerns are with the status quo, social order, consensus, social integration, solidarity, individual or system needs satisfaction, and actuality. In contrast, the radical change perspective is concerned with explaining structural conflict, modes of domination, contradiction, emancipation, deprivation, and potentiality. Assumptions that researchers make, both about the philosophy of science and the theory of society, represent two independent dimensions which, taken together, delineate four distinct paradigms: Functionalist, Interpretive, Radical Humanist, and Radical Structuralist. These paradigms reflect basic metatheoretical assumptions that underpin the shared philosophy, perspective, mode of theorizing, and approach of researchers who operate within them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-152
Number of pages8
JournalEntrepreneurship: theory & practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005

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