chapter  6
13 Pages

FIELDWORK

Methods of investigation in economics, management and finance, of which this book provides an example, have become more pluralistic as time has progressed, as demonstrated by Ryan et al. (1992). Influences from other sciences, both natural and social, have been admitted, like positivism.1 There has been a decreasing reliance on secondary source data. These data are to be criticized on the grounds that they are usually gathered for other purposes than the study at hand (e.g. for tax assessment). Further, it is common to proceed without adopting any conscious theoretical framework for data gathering.2 At the same time, perhaps as a reaction to this, there has been an increasing enthusiasm for the acquisition of primary source data which are targeted at a particular research area. Venture capital investment has enjoyed some celebrity for attracting investigations which proceed in this way (e.g. Sapienza 1989). This method allows the investigator the luxury of utilizing a specific analytical perspective, like principal-agent analysis, for determining the way in which data are gathered. For example, such a perspective may run in terms of the interrelationships between variables and economic actors. To illustrate, who reports what, to whom, in VCI/MSF relationships? Alternatively, the analytical framework is allowed to emerge incrementally and inductively, as suggested by the data-acquisition process itself.3 The

study by Steier and Greenwood (1995) provides an example of the use of this methodology in a venture capital context. Illustrative of this trend to pluralism is the plea by Lawson (1985) for the use of more case histories and personal histories, and the emphasis of Carlsson (1987) on the value of primary source data. Even specialists in economic theory like Flaherty (1984) have admitted the value of fieldwork in generating and stimulating hypotheses (in her case, concerning technological change and growth in the international semiconductor industry).