Experimental methods can manipulate key factors of interest and tease out confounding factors in entrepreneurial activities, allowing researchers to better identify causal relationships. Combined with field research, they can help to balance the internal and external validity of causal relationships. Studies have focused on only a limited range of topics, such as the early stages of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial decision-making at a micro level, with little attention been paid to the factors in the entrepreneurial process as well as the factors at an industrial or macro level. Moreover, previous reviews have mainly focused on the normative use of experimental methods in entrepreneurship research; few have discussed how to further integrate experimental methods into the research questions pertinent to entrepreneurship, let alone articulate how to use experimental methods to investigate the unique contexts and principles of entrepreneurship. To bridge this research gap, the study reviews 65 papers published in 14 authoritative journals in the disciplines of management and entrepreneurship. It identifies research trends, research topics, research paradigms, and experimental manipulations. Research topics include entrepreneurs/entrepreneurial teams, entrepreneurial opportunities, venture capital, entrepreneurial decision-making, entrepreneurial education and training, entrepreneurial failure, gender differences, and rural entrepreneurship. Two categories of the research paradigm are identified: entrepreneurship experiments （which include scenario-based entrepreneurship experiments and the application of psychology and decision science experiments in entrepreneurship） and studies that combine multiple methods. Experimental manipulations include active participation, passive participation, active role-playing, and passive role-playing. Finally, we propose future research directions from three perspectives. First, we suggest extending the research contexts and research levels of experimental studies in entrepreneurship. Specifically, future research may: （1） extend to specific entrepreneurship contexts, such as family entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship; and focus on the whole process of entrepreneurship, including entrepreneurial activities in the growth, stabilization, decline, failure, and innovation stages; （2） apply experimental methods to advance indigenous entrepreneurship research; （3） extend the application of experimental methods in entrepreneurship research to team or firm level research. Second, future research may combine experimental methods with new technologies. Specifically, future research may: （1） combine experimental research with neuroscience and pay attention to the emerging field of neuro-entrepreneurship; （2） apply web-based technologies to entrepreneurship research. Third, future research may improve the normative use of experimental methods in entrepreneurship research by paying attention to: （1） research topics and the applicability of experimental manipulation; （2） subject selection.
The Application of Experimental Methods in Entrepreneurship Research: A Literature Review and Future Prospects
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 41, Issue 05, pp. 31 - 43,57 (2019) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.2019.05.003
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Cite this article
Yu Xiaoyu, Qu Xianxian, Tao Yida, et al. The Application of Experimental Methods in Entrepreneurship Research: A Literature Review and Future Prospects[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2019, 41(5): 31-43.