A critical realist exploration of entrepreneurship as complex, reflexive and myriad

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This paper builds on previous studies that explore entrepreneurship from a critical realist morphogenetic perspective, and incorporates the neglected aspect of how agential reflexivity shapes entrepreneurship. Using the morphogenetic framework and its typology of reflexive modes, we analyse 78 work and life histories gathered from Sri Lanka with the aim of understanding reflexive entrepreneurial action. Our findings suggest that, while autonomous reflexives match the common understanding of entrepreneurship, i.e. that it is individualistic and wealth-driven, nevertheless the other reflexive modalities also exhibit entrepreneurship. For example, communicative reflexives may demonstrate entrepreneurship in achieving their aspiration to maintain a family firm or tradition, and meta-reflexives may demonstrate entrepreneurship in order to realize their value ideals. We conclude that the morphogenetic typology of reflexivity is a reliable guide to understanding subtleties associated with entrepreneurial action and resolving the ongoing debate about whether entrepreneurship is best understood as motivated by the individual or by society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-279
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Critical Realism
Issue number3
Early online date5 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Entrepreneurship
  • Sri Lanka
  • critical realism
  • morphogenetic approach
  • reflexivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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