Qualitative entrepreneurship authorship: antecedents, processes and consequences

Robert Smith (Aberdeen Business School, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK)
Gerard McElwee (Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Seonaidh McDonald (Institute of Management, Governance and Society, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK)
Sarah Drakopoulou Dodd (ALBA Graduate Business School, The American College of Greece, Athens, Greece)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Publication date: 7 June 2013



The purpose of this paper is to report on a review of the writing practices and experiences of scholars who have published qualitative papers in the field of entrepreneurship. It evaluates existing knowledge about how “well‐published” entrepreneurship scholars go about writing up qualitative research. It identifies the antecedents, processes, and consequences of qualitative research authorship as self‐described by authors.


Scholars who had published qualitative papers in the five top‐ranked entrepreneurship journals over a 20‐year period were asked to complete a qualitative survey about their writing practices. A qualitative analysis of 37 usable replies was undertaken.


Entrepreneurship scholars perceive their qualitative research writing to be more enriching and philosophical than quantitative research. Although they feel strong connections with their research subjects, they find qualitative research difficult and time consuming to write up. It is hard to bridge the gap between working with large amounts of transcribed data and the editorial requirements of journals, without losing the vitality of data. Qualitative research and subsequent writing skills have often been learned by trial and error. Many are inspired by specific texts, which may include novels, poems or plays.

Practical implications

This work shows how useful it is to discuss qualitative writing processes so that we may learn from the “blood, toil, tears and sweat” of those who have already successfully navigated both the writing and publishing of qualitative research.


Although there is a vigorous debate within the entrepreneurship literature about the prevalence and suitability of different methods and methodological approaches, there is no explicit discussion of how researchers engage with writing up qualitative research for publication. The paper addresses this gap and shares insights and guidance from our community of practice.



Robert Smith, Gerard McElwee, Seonaidh McDonald and Sarah Drakopoulou Dodd (2013) "Qualitative entrepreneurship authorship: antecedents, processes and consequences", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 364-386

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: https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEBR-11-2010-0179



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