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The Social and Collaborative Nature of Entrepreneurship Scholarship: A Co-Citation and Perceptual Analysis


Please send correspondence to: Diana Reader, Bath Spa University College, Newton Park, Newton St. Loe, Bath. BA2 9BN, e-mail:


This article explores the structure of the “metafield” of entrepreneurship in two related ways. First, author co-citation analysis establishes a collective view of the structure of the entrepreneurship literature as perceived by its research-active members. The co-citation frequencies of 78 prominent entrepreneurship researchers were analyzed using multivariate techniques. Cluster analysis and multidimensional scaling were used to explore the intellectual structure of entrepreneurship research by identifying groups of scholars whose work falls into similar areas. Factor analysis was then used to identify the underlying themes that characterize and define the field. Finally, the scholars within these nominal groupings were approached using individualized questionnaires to explore what social interactions might parallel, reflect, or underpin the intellectual ones. The study has given empirical support to a number of oft-quoted beliefs about entrepreneurship as a field of study, such as: (1) the occurrence of fragmentation from an early stage in its development; (2) that the difficulty of categorizing subfields unambiguously mirrors that in the metafield itself; (3) that there is a relative paucity of scholarship cited across—as opposed to within—these subfields; and (4) that there is evolution within the meta-field of national differences in the topics studied and citation patterns thereto. In addition, the study demonstrates that there are real and robust social and collaborative networks underlying the generation of the work which is cited jointly by third parties. The latter authors may be unaware of these networks. Equally, the co-cited authors, while recognizing overlapping interests, may have difficulty in categorizing this commonality in their contributions. Entrepreneurship research is shown to be very much a social activity, although this may be invisible to outsiders or novitiates.