Methodological implications of critical realism for entrepreneurship research

Xiaoti Hu

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    Few papers have offered clear guidance for the application of CR to empirical studies, particularly in the research field of entrepreneurship. The purpose of this paper is to critically review how the methodological principles used to conduct CR-based research can be applied in empirical studies and to develop a critical realist case study research design to guide empirical work in entrepreneurship. Specifically, I examine the core ontological assumptions and methodological implications of CR, and illustrate how these shape our logic of inference in research methodology known as retroduction. I demonstrate the value of a CR-informed approach in empirical studies by drawing on a qualitative case study that explains the reality of entrepreneurial opportunities. My inclusion of the three domains of reality and various data analysis techniques within the process of conceptual abstraction and retroduction contributes a distinctive methodological development in this field, which illustrates how CR can work in an applied setting to explain competing theories. I argue that such a research design enables us to conduct empirical studies and provide comprehensive causal explanations of complex social events.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Critical Realism
    Early online date5 Apr 2018
    Publication statusEarly online - 5 Apr 2018


    • critical realism
    • abstraction
    • retroduction
    • research design
    • methodology
    • entrepreneurship
    • opportunity


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