How not to do it!! A salutary lesson on longitudinal and qualitative research approaches for entrepreneurship researchers

Laura Galloway, Isla Kapasi, Geoff Whittam

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    The paper focuses on a project undertaken by experienced entrepreneurship researchers which ended in ‘failure’ in that it did not achieve intended or expected study outcomes. The research was intended to be a follow-up study of the impact of entrepreneurship education conducted several years earlier. In the original study various measures had been made to facilitate longitudinal follow-up: students were asked if they would participate in follow-up in due course; contact details were obtained and these included both online and offline addresses and numbers. The aim of the follow-up study was to compare student intentions and ambitions with actual entrepreneurship outcomes 7 years on. These comparisons would test theories of intention, and would investigate the influencers of entrepreneurship, including antecedents hypothesised throughout the literature and specifically included in the original study for that purpose. Despite the preparatory measures taken in the original study, and despite employing all the latest data gathering techniques available, in particular, the use of social media, the authors were unable to identify sufficient participants from the original sample of over 600 to make robust comparisons. The paper describes how flexibility and contingency in qualitative studies can be critical, particularly in the high-risk context of longitudinal studies of human activity, and will show how these, applied to the planned study, have afforded robust research outputs, albeit, different from those originally planned. The paper highlights lessons learned from the project with the aim of informing fellow researchers of some of the pitfalls of conducting longitudinal research, with the belief that we learn from our mistakes. The paper advocates further that greater engagement with other social science disciplines’ methodologies employed to study human and social phenomena is needed in the business disciplines.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)489-500
    Number of pages12
    JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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