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Publication date: 4 November 2014

Per Blenker, Stine Trolle Elmholdt, Signe Hedeboe Frederiksen, Steffen Korsgaard and Kathleen Wagner

Research in entrepreneurship education faces substantial tensions and methodological challenges. Building on a review of extant empirical studies in the field, the purpose…




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.


Education + Training, vol. 56 no. 8/9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0040-0912


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