Anders, A. and Riddell, M. (2021, December). Qualitative research as entrepreneurial venture: Asking the right research questions is about discovering opportunities to create value. ABC Midwestern/Southeastern Business Communication Symposium. Association for Business Communication.

This presentation offers a concise case study of how entrepreneurial mindsets can inform the design of qualitative business communication research. Specifically, we argue that it is productive to think of the process of “asking the right questions” as similar to the process of developing and discovering “product-market fit” for an entrepreneurial venture. Scholars of the rhetoric of entrepreneurship like Clay Spinuzzi have found that entrepreneurs are likely to start with either a solution-centric invention or problem-centric market need as the inspiration for their venture. As the entrepreneurial process unfolds, the business venture tends to benefit from adapting to better address the other half of the venture equation. Like entrepreneurs, qualitative research may start out with a solution-centric (theory) or problem-centric (site/topic/data set) idea for a particular study. As the study design evolves, it can be useful to allow each perspective to inform the other and to simultaneously test how changes in the study design can impact the value of its results. For example, its research questions, theoretical framework, methodology, and even data samples could take priority and/or be adapted to serve a more significant and valuable research direction. To illustrate this process, we will share how the research questions and related theoretical frame evolved for a qualitative study of the reflective practice of entrepreneurs. This project included both examples of iterative development and one major pivot that can help demonstrate the utility of an entrepreneurial approach to qualitative research in action.

In addition to a review of relevant information about entrepreneurial mindsets and qualitative research methodologies, this presentation offers a heuristic set of principles much like a business model canvas that can help scholars develop and evaluate their own research ventures.