Interpretative phenomenological analysis as an entrepreneurship research methodology

Duminda Rajasinghe, Chithaka Aluthgama-Baduge, Gary Mulholland

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaperpeer-review


This conceptual paper suggests ‘Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis’ (IPA) as an appropriate methodology for entrepreneurship research. First, it discusses the authors’ position of entrepreneurship. It then justifies the relevance of IPA to develop deeper understanding within the field. Entrepreneurship appears as a subjective and contextual phenomenon (Aluthgama-Baduge, 2017; Stam, 2016). For example, creating a new organisation (Gartner, 1988), using innovative and creative skills to develop something new and useful (Baron, 2012), entrepreneurship within an existing organisation (Heinonen et al., 2013; Casey, 2013), and value creation in the public, private and third sectors (QAA, 2018), are few different meanings that have been incorporated into entrepreneurship. Moreover, entrepreneurship literature also emphasises the importance of considering wider implications such as commercial, social, economic, psychological and cultural to understand the phenomenon (Welter et al., 2016). It is therefore clear that the entrepreneurship is situated in context (Brannback and Carsrud, 2016), and socially constructed (Anderson, 2016; Pittaway, 2000). Authors of this paper take this position forward, however, do not discard other realities that may exist. There is also an attempt to generate standardisation, accreditation and generalizable knowledge within the field (Brannback et al., 2014). It appears that the positivist views within entrepreneurship research continue to dominate (Brannback and Carsrud, 2016; Neergaard and Ulhoi, 2007). Nonetheless, some (Welter et al., 2016; Davidsson, 2004; Gartner and Birley, 2002) emphasise the significance of capturing contextual and subjective knowledge to support the growth of entrepreneurship. Consequently, these authors emphasize a need for further research to generate such knowledge and understanding. IPA is a psychological research methodology informed by phenomenology, hermeneutics, and ideography (Smith et al., 2009). The interest of IPA is in human experience, and the individual interpretations of a particular experience (Larkin et al., 2011). It analyses how participant make sense of their experience in a given context (Wagstaff and Williams, 2014). Considering authors' position of entrepreneurship, IPA appears relevant and appropriate to create deeper understanding by analysing interpretations of entrepreneurs and wider stakeholders of entrepreneurship (Smith, 2011). The paper critically discusses how IPA accommodates current qualitative research demands within the field. It will provide an in depth understanding of philosophical instances of IPA and their links to the authors’ position of entrepreneurship.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2018
Event25th Eurasia Business and Economics Society (EBES) Conference - Berlin, Germany
Duration: 23 May 2018 → …


Conference25th Eurasia Business and Economics Society (EBES) Conference
Period23/05/18 → …
Internet address


  • Interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • entrepreneurship research


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