How not to do it!! A salutary lesson on longitudinal and qualitative research approaches for entrepreneurship researchers

Laura Galloway, Isla Kapasi, Geoffrey Whittam

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    The purpose of this paper is to report the experiences of researchers seeking to undertake mixed methods longitudinal research in the entrepreneurship discipline. In this research, the methodology was thoroughly planned and measures were taken to ensure longitudinal feasibility of the project. This is not what ultimately happened though. The paper reports the experience and reflects on the methodological challenges of longitudinal and qualitative studies, with a view to informing future attempts at these.


    The initial study involved a sample of 600+ participants in a survey that investigated entrepreneurial intent and related antecedents and formed the baseline from which longitudinal comparisons would be made. A catastrophic attrition rate rendered neither follow-up statistical comparisons nor qualitative comparative analysis possible. An alternative, entirely qualitative, follow-up was therefore developed. While unintended, this in fact proved advantageous to the research.

    Findings comprise reflection on the failure of the intended methodology. Longitudinal studies are notoriously difficult but within the broader social sciences, particularly those that inspect human experiences, there is a rich body of methodology expertise in terms of mitigating the challenges of engaging research subjects, and keeping them engaged over time.

    The paper recommends, post reflection and post analysis, that greater engagement with the wider social sciences is needed in business research. As entrepreneurship research moves on to investigate the experiences of the agents of business, methods to investigate these might be better informed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)489-500
    Number of pages12
    JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2015


    • mixed methods
    • longitudinal research
    • entrepreneurship


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