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Recognizing meaning: semiotics in entrepreneurial research.

Smith, Robert; Anderson, Alistair R.


Robert Smith

Alistair R. Anderson


Helle Neergaard

John Parm Ulh�i


Entrepreneurship is a process which involves discontinuity and change; entrepreneurs create disequilibria and exploit the resulting change. Thus, entrepreneurship is in essence change. This fundamental characteristic of entrepreneurship makes it difficult to pin down or even to categorise. But certain aspects of entrepreneurial change remain similar through space and time, so that the exploration of the signs and symbolism of enterprise can provide us with the tools to picture a continuity of meaning. Semiotics, the doctrine of signs, is a useful tool for exploring the depth and scope of what we mean by entrepreneurship. Consequently this chapter argues that an appreciation of entrepreneurial semiotics enables an understanding of the meanings of enterprise; what it is; how it is practised; why it is practised and why it is encouraged. Many of these meanings lie at the ideological level, they are taken for granted, often implicit, rarely explicit, but analysis of entrepreneurial symbolism gives us some purchase in understanding. By reading and analysis, the decoding of signifiers enables us to get beneath the taken-for-granted iconographic, to begin to understand the nature of entrepreneurial meanings.


SMITH, R. and ANDERSON, A.R. 2007. Recognizing meaning: semiotics in entrepreneurial research. In Neergaard, H. and Ulhøi, J.P. (eds.) Handbook of qualitative research methods in entrepreneurship. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, chapter 7, pages 169-192.

Online Publication Date Dec 31, 2007
Publication Date Dec 31, 2007
Deposit Date May 4, 2009
Publicly Available Date May 4, 2009
Publisher Edward Elgar Publishing
Pages 169-192
Book Title Handbook of qualitative research methods in entrepreneurship
Chapter Number Chapter 7
ISBN 9781847209597
Keywords Entrepreneurship; Semiotics
Public URL
Publisher URL


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