Observing entrepreneurs in networks: Reflecting on the relationship between the researcher and the participants

Valerie Brett, Aisling O'Neill, Bill O'Gorman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to engage in reflective practice on the research and relationships that developed between the researchers and the research participants over a three-year period. The study involved the establishment and observation of six learning networks of entrepreneurs consisting of 105 participants. The longitudinal study ensured constant interaction with the participants and the paper explores, through reflection, how the researchers felt their role was constrained by methodological best practice and the growing challenges of familiarity. A key finding is that despite the endeavours of the research team to maintain methodological standards and to limit their influence on the research participants, the participants considered the observers as part of the entrepreneurial learning network and part of the process. The paper reflects how the researchers' methodological beliefs may have limited the collection of richer data and explores how positive influences on the research participants enhanced the data collection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-287
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Entrepreneurial learning networks
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Observation
  • Reflectivity
  • Researcher and research participant relationships
  • Small businesses


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