The vanishing point? – notes on conceptual colonization and epistemological emptying

Alf Rehn*

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Purpose: “Entrepreneurship” and “projects” both represent concepts with somewhat hazy boundaries. Interestingly, they also both represent fields of study in which academics representing those fields have worked very hard so as extend rather than delineate the same. In fact, some parts of the debate on, e.g., entrepreneurship could be criticized for engaging in “conceptual colonization,” insofar as it actively attempts to fit more and more activities under the umbrella term of entrepreneurship and/or projects, with the attendant implicit inference that they are thus fodder and resource for studies of the same. The purpose of this paper is to seek to inquire into this phenomenon. Design/methodology/approach: In and of itself this could be seen as merely a case of academic (over-)branding, but the author will in the following paper argue that this also leads to “epistemological emptying,” i.e., a state where terms such as entrepreneurship and project start becoming less and less meaningful as they become more and more general, and that the strive among researchers to extend their fields can be seen as a form of symbolic violence against the same. Findings: The author argues that the author can find conceptual colonization and epistemological emptying by paying critical attention to the manner in which key contributions in the field(s) consistently and uncritically try to extend the boundaries of said field(s). Originality/value: By reflection on the manner in which field(s) attempts to make themselves more general may backfire and bring about epistemological emptying, the author might develop a more robust discussion regarding the importance of field boundaries and also more critically note power/knowledge ambitions in the field(s).

TidsskriftInternational Journal of Managing Projects in Business
Udgave nummer1
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 4. mar. 2019

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