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Challenging the Myths of Entrepreneurship?

Challenging the Myths of Entrepreneurship?

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Published by Alf Rehn
Rehn, Alf, Brännback, Malin, Carsrud, Alan & Lindahl, Marcus (2013), “Challenging the Myths of Entrepreneurship?”, Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, forthcoming. DOI: 10.1080/08985626.2013.818846
Rehn, Alf, Brännback, Malin, Carsrud, Alan & Lindahl, Marcus (2013), “Challenging the Myths of Entrepreneurship?”, Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, forthcoming. DOI: 10.1080/08985626.2013.818846

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Alf Rehn on Aug 04, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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This article was downloaded by: [Lund University Libraries]On: 03 August 2013, At: 11:08Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Entrepreneurship & RegionalDevelopment: An International Journal
Publication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tepn20
Challenging the myths of entrepreneurship?
Alf Rehn
, Malin Brännback
, Alan Carsrud
& Marcus Lindahl
Åbo Akademi University , Turku , Finland
Stockholm University , Stockholm , Sweden
Uppsala University , Uppsala , SwedenPublished online: 30 Jul 2013.
To cite this article:
Entrepreneurship & Regional Development (2013): Challenging the mythsof entrepreneurship?, Entrepreneurship & Regional Development: An International Journal, DOI:10.1080/08985626.2013.818846
To link to this article:
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the “Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francisshall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoeveror howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to orarising out of the use of the Content.This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found athttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions
EDITORIALChallenging the myths of entrepreneurship?
Alf Rehn
, Malin Bra¨nnback 
, Alan Carsrud
and Marcus Lindahl
 A˚ bo Akademi University, Turku, Finland;
Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden;
Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Entrepreneurship studies started out as a young field, one where a mix of economists, psychologists, geographers and the occasional anthropologist cametogether to study the wonder and weirdness that is entrepreneurship, in a widerange of fashions and with few a priori assumptions to hold it back. Today, someof this eclecticism lives on in the field, but at the same time we have seen that thefield has matured and its popularity has led to the field becoming increasinglyinstitutionalized – and thereby beset by an increasing number of assumptions,evenmyths.Consequently,thisspecialissuequeriessomeoftheassumptionsandpotentialmythsthatflourishinthefield,inquiringcriticallyintotheconstitutionof entrepreneurshipasafieldofresearch allinordertodevelopthesame.Withoutoccasions where a field can question even its most deeply held beliefs, we are atrisk of becoming ideologically rather than analytically constituted, which is whyweinthisspecialissuewantedtocreateaspaceforthekindofcriticalyetcreativeplay that e.g. Sarasvathy (2004) has encourages the field to engage with.
entrepreneurship studies; myths; critique; assumptions
There was a time, once upon a time, when entrepreneurship could be referred to as a‘young’ discipline, an open and inquisitive field with few boundaries to hinder inquiry.There was a time, once, when the field might have best been described with terms such as‘developing’, ‘emerging’ and ‘promising’. Such terms all lay claim to a state of beingwhere traditionalism, dogmatism and conservative thought have not yet managed toestablish themselves, and these kinds of notions are often central in establishing theidentity and self-image of a field, which is why many a field rally around them. Thequestion is whether such claims still hold true for the field of entrepreneurship studies?Where Shane and Venkatamaran (2000) famously laid out the promise of the field, wemight today start asking about the way in which even a promising young mind can becomeset in its ways, and what happens when a field is no longer emerging but quite established.The issue that we here wish to explore is not the potential of the eld oentrepreneurship, rich as this might be, but the assumptions that the same is holding to. AsKuhn (1962) so adroitly showed and Polanyi (1944) so elegantly argued, every scientificfield will become enamoredwith a set of assumptions about the phenomena it focuses on –a setting of the ways or an establishing of paradigms. Partly this is natural, as a scienceneeds a foundation to build upon, but such foundations can also be a hindrance, blindingthe field to alternatives and new paths. It does not take much in the way of argument to
2013 Taylor & Francis
*Corresponding author. Email: Marcus.lindahl@angstrom.uu.se
Entrepreneurship & Regional Development 
   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   L  u  n   d   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y   L   i   b  r  a  r   i  e  s   ]  a   t   1   1  :   0   8   0   3   A  u  g  u  s   t   2   0   1   3
state that this goes for entrepreneurship studies as well. In this field, we are continuouslyseeing a number of claims presented as absolute fact, and at times these claims seem tohave become so accepted that they become tenets of an ideology rather than tenets of science (cf. Rehn 2008). This happens not because the field wishes to limit itself, but ratherbecause scholars tend to become invested in specific claims about the world, specificassumptions held to be universally true. We have currently seen this play out in a dramaticfashion in economics, where universal truths once espoused by neo-classicists have comeunder ever-increasing scrutiny. The interesting notion, however, is not whether someeconomist or other was wrong or right, but the process through which an assumption iselevated to the level of universal truth.We have at times referred to this as the ‘first line’-problem, referring to the practice of opening a paper with a claim that is seen as unproblematically true and thus supporting thearguments that follow. Such opening gambits are common within the social sciences as akind of scene-setting apparatus, and the reader is often supposed to agree with themwithout pondering them all that much. This is of course how an assumption solidifies intofact, and it is also the manner in which myths are created. Because by making a supposedlyself-evident statement over and over one can over time establish it as being sofoundational to the field that questioning the same becomes tantamount to questioning thefield itself, not to mention questioning those established within it. As a result, the ‘firstlines’, those opening gambits that do not so much set a scene as they pledge allegiance toa field.‘Entrepreneurship has been identified as a key driver of economic growth.’‘High growth entrepreneurship is one of the most central issues for a healthyeconomy.’‘Social entrepreneurs make significant and diverse contributions to their communitiesand societies.’‘Minority entrepreneurs adopt an identity that is formed by their specific minoritystatus.’Statements such as these can highlight both the assumptions that a field holds on toand, further, the reaction (or, more precisely, non-reaction) we have to them is telling, as itindicates what has become established as dogma in the field. However, for any scientificfield to progress, it is important that it is able to look at even its most valued assumptionsand subject these to critical scrutiny. This is the impetus of this special issue.We have entitled this special issue ‘The Myths of Entrepreneurship?’ in order toencourage prospective authors to look with a critical eye on the assumptions andpotential myths that flourish in the field. The strive here is not to trash or criticizeentrepreneurship studies as a field, but rather to examine its foundations in order tostrengthen the same. As any field of inquiry will be marked by politics and the desire forlegitimacy – i.e. agreeing with the powers that be – there is always a risk that a field willgravitate towards a set of dogmas, and this special issue strives to be a space whereresearchers in entrepreneurship can voice their dissent and be free to criticize even themost hallowed beliefs of the field. In other words, we are calling for contributions thattake on the ‘myths’ of entrepreneurship regardless of which these are. Where Shane(2008) wanted to highlight
Illusions of Entrepreneurship
, this issue wants to go furtherand inquire critically into the constitution of entrepreneurship as a field of research – inorder to develop the same. To put it somewhat differently, Sarasvathy (2004) addressedthis by encouraging us to engage in ‘creative play’ as to the questions we ask, and wehere wish to extend this to a creative engagement with the assumptions such questionsare built on.
 A. Rehn
et al.2
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