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Methods in entrepreneurship education research: a review and integrative framework

Per Blenker (iCARE and Department of Business Administration, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)
Stine Trolle Elmholdt (iCARE and Department of Business Administration, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)
Signe Hedeboe Frederiksen (iCARE and Department of Business Administration, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)
Steffen Korsgaard (iCARE and Department of Business Administration, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)
Kathleen Wagner (iCARE and Department of Business Administration, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 4 November 2014




Research in entrepreneurship education faces substantial tensions and methodological challenges. Building on a review of extant empirical studies in the field, the purpose of this paper is to develop an integrative methodological framework for studying entrepreneurship education. Central questions are: What forms of entrepreneurship education research exist? Which data sources, research methods and approaches are used in this research? What are the methodological strengths and weaknesses of entrepreneurship education research? How can entrepreneurship education research be improved methodologically?


The paper combines a literature review with a conceptual discussion. The review identifies 88 journal articles reporting empirical studies of entrepreneurship education published between 2002 and 2012. The literature is coded according to method used, type of study, data collection and analysis techniques. From the analysis of the reviewed literature, a conceptual discussion of the advantages and drawbacks of various methods is undertaken, and an integrated approach to entrepreneurship education research is proposed.


Research in entrepreneurship education is fragmented both conceptually and methodologically. Findings suggest that the methods applied in entrepreneurship education research cluster in two groups: first, quantitative studies of the extent and effect of entrepreneurship education; and second, qualitative single case studies of different courses and programmes. Benefits and drawbacks haunt both clusters. Quantitative studies bring objectivity, comparability and generalizability, but show limited appreciation of the heterogeneity of the education they seek to measure. Qualitative single case studies are ripe with contextually sensitive descriptions and best pedagogical practices, but suffer from limited comparability and generalizability as well as severe biases of teacher-researcher conflation.


The suggested methodological framework builds on a systematic review of the research methods applied in extant entrepreneurship education research. It integrates qualitative and quantitative techniques, the use of research teams consisting of insiders (teachers studying their own teaching) and outsiders (research collaborators studying the education) as well as multiple types of data. To gain both in-depth and analytically generalizable studies of entrepreneurship courses and programmes, the suggested framework integrates the empirical sensitivity of qualitative techniques and diverse research positions, with the rigour of quantitative measures. The authors argue that studies of entrepreneurship education benefit from this integration. Furthermore, the authors describe a variety of helpful methods, explore the potential relation between insiders and outsiders in the research process and discuss how different types of data can be combined. The integrated framework urges researchers to extend investments in methodological efforts and to enhance the in-depth understanding of the dynamics and challenges of teaching entrepreneurship.



This research was supported by a generous grant from the Danish Strategic Research Council and carried out within the PACE project ( and the work of Kathleen Wagner was supported by a research grant from the Danish Enterprise and Construction Agency and the European Social Fund.The dataset used for the review and additional information on the method applied is available at:


Blenker, P., Trolle Elmholdt, S., Hedeboe Frederiksen, S., Korsgaard, S. and Wagner, K. (2014), "Methods in entrepreneurship education research: a review and integrative framework", Education + Training, Vol. 56 No. 8/9, pp. 697-715.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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