Building on the first (February 2016 at VU Amsterdam), second (February 2017 at University College Dublin Quinn School of Business) and third (April 2018 at Linnaeus University) Entrepreneurship as Practice conferences (EaP 4th), this conference and PhD symposium brings together the growing community of researchers who embrace the “practice turn”. Initiated by such calls as Steyaert (2007) and Johannisson (2011), the entrepreneurship-as-practice movement is now gaining traction, witnessed by such contributions as De Clercq & Voronov (2009), Tatli et al. (2014), Goss et al. (2011), Keating et al. (2013), Chalmers and Shaw (2017), Dimov (2018) and Matthews et al. (2018).
Practice theorists of entrepreneurship studies share a number of common assumptions.
First, instead of thoughts and ideas hidden inside individual entrepreneurial minds, the central focus of inquiry are the spontaneously expressed, living, responsive, relational practices occurring out in the world between us for all to see.
Second, practices are seen as the relevant unit of analysis for the exploration of entrepreneurial phenomena. Although there is no one definition of practice possible, they are fundamentally collaborative and relational activities, not solely reducible to the agents who carry them out. As they are defined by Schatzki, practices are organized by the enactment of sequential bodily activities, mediated by ‘things’ and their use, and drawing upon practical knowledge. Practices bring together actors, activities and contexts, thus interrelating social structures and human agency (Dodd et al., 2016; Hill, 2018; Tatli et al., 2014). Consequently, EaP research aims to observe, theorize and unfold the practices―as ways of doing and saying things – carried out by practitioners (entrepreneurs and their partners).
Drawing on these shared assumptions, recent scholarship has advanced entrepreneurship research in several ways. First, entrepreneurship as practice continues to move away from understanding ‘who’ an entrepreneur is towards the importance of collaborative activity, performance, and work in the creation and perpetuation of entrepreneuring (Gartner et al., 2016; Keating et al., 2013; Matthews et al., 2018). Second, theories of practice help us understand the critical role of the body, practical know-how and material objects in organizing entrepreneurship. Third, theories of practice help us perceive and better understand the reproduction and transformation of practices and practical knowledge related to entrepreneurial phenomena across time and space.
However, emphasizing the intricate socially-situated nature of practices comes with considerable ontological, theoretical and methodological implications. These will be addressed during the Conference and PhD Symposium.
With the support of Audencia Business School faculty members:
Gilles Certhoux, Tamim Elbasha, Vincent Lefebvre, Benjamin Le Pendeven, Kathleen Randerson, Sébastien Ronteau, Lisa Thomas.