The purpose of this paper is to consider the methodological limitations of existing dominant research paradigms in entrepreneurship research. In order to encourage the use of little used methodologies to create higher quality data, an alternative approach is proposed whereby data triangulation from conventional quantitative and qualitative methods of the postal survey and the in‐depth interview are combined with biographical data.
By following a path of research, which embraces data triangulation from both contemporary and historical perspectives, this paper explores the benefits of embracing methods from disciplines outside the conventional confines of business research in order to better inform our understanding of smaller firm behaviour.
Introducing creativity into the research process mirrors the behaviour of entrepreneurial small firms, which often thrive in non‐linear environments where conventional linear, stepwise research methodologies fail to capture the full picture of owner/manager behaviour. Adoption of a biographical approach to entrepreneurship research can result in the uncovering of rich descriptions of valuable data, which would otherwise remain undiscovered if more conventional approaches were adopted, alone.
Whichever methodological approach is adopted, it will be open to criticism and bias. Biographical research has been criticised for its subjectivity in terms of the biographer imposing his or her own thinking on the process. However, good biographical research utilises the creative “story telling” strengths of the biographer as researcher to uncover clearer truths.
The paper presents a discussion of how to utilise biographical data as a management research tool, either as a stand‐alone method or in conjunction with other research methodologies through the process of data triangulation.
Following a more creative, biographical approach to researching entrepreneurship suggests adopting a more postmodern, or even critical approach. Management researchers can now begin to understand how chaos and fragmentation are located in a world where formal, linear methods of understanding are being superceded by more creative conceptualisations and interpretations of the truth.
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