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Are we ignorant about enterprise: Questioning assumptions?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 September 2019

Simon Bridge*
Ulster Business School, Ulster University, Belfast, UK
Corresponding author. Email:


Twenty years ago Gibb suggested that despite an ‘explosion of research’ into enterprise, there had been ‘a growth of ignorance’. To see if that still applies, this paper looks at the nature of ‘knowledge’ and in particular at how our knowledge about enterprise has evolved. It suggests that to build our enterprise understanding, assumptions were made but not subsequently reviewed and verified. For instance it seems to have been assumed that enterprise is a sub-set of business, with the apparent consequence that big business-based thinking is applied also to small businesses.The paper concludes that there is a prima face case that ignorance about enterprise still prevails and there are examples which support this conclusion. In consequence, until the questionable assumptions are highlighted and their foundations recognised and corrected, we should not claim a leading role for our thinking or promote it as an appropriate basis for enterprise policy.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press and Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management 2019

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