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Recognition of qualitative shadowing as a valuable research method is growing. In this paper we critically evaluate the value of utilising qualitative shadowing to investigate entrepreneurial learning. In so doing we make important methodological contributions to entrepreneurial learning research, which has largely relied on more traditional qualitative research methods to date. Reflecting on our own use of qualitative shadowing within entrepreneurial organisations, we show how the distinct features of qualitative shadowing are ideally suited to gaining insights into Cope’s (2005) learning processes – learning from critical / discontinuous experiences, routinized learning, reflecting on experiences, and generative learning. In particular, we highlight that qualitative shadowing can generate important insights into in situ, everyday, mundane entrepreneurial learning that may be missed by more traditional research methods. We also contribute to research methods literature by advancing critiques of qualitative shadowing through illuminating physical, emotional, political and contextual challenges of using this research method to investigate entrepreneurial learning. Despite these challenges, we find that qualitative shadowing is a rigorous and credible research method that offers strong potential for developing scholarly insights into entrepreneurial learning.
Dr Alex Kevill is a Lecturer in Enterprise at the University of Leeds. His research interests include dynamic capabilities, micro-enterprises, entrepreneurial learning and social entrepreneurship. He completed his doctoral research – ‘Dynamic Capabilities in Micro-Organizations: Understanding Key Micro-Foundations’ – at Lancaster University in 2015.
Dr Uzair Shah is a Lecturer at the Department of Leadership and Management, Lancaster University Management School. He completed his PhD studies at Lancaster University. Drawing on understanding-based approach, his research broadly focuses on management learning and education. With Uzair’s work for University’s International Teaching Partnerships, he is particularly interested in exploring responsible business education within developing contexts. He is also interested in studying management pedagogy using ICT and in particular exploring how ICT is in use to facilitate learning. He uses phenomenographic approach to explore these research areas. Uzair is a Fellow of Academy of Higher Education, and teaches on undergraduate and postgraduate modules at LUMS. In addition, he is also involved in teaching and assessment/exam moderation for University’s International Teaching Partnerships programmes.