A holistic social constructionist perspective to enterprise education

Deema Refai, Rita G. Klapper, John Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – Drawing on the Gestalt approach the purpose of this paper is to propose a holistic framework for enterprise education (EE) research based on Social Constructionism, illustrating how the latter supports research into experiential learning in EE in seven UK Higher Education (HE) pharmacy schools. Design/methodology/approach – This paper is based on a qualitative empirical study involving educators in UK Higher Education Institution pharmacy schools in semi-structured interviews, and investigates the delivery of EE through experiential learning approaches. Social Constructionism is proposed as a suitable underlying philosophical paradigm. Findings – A Social Constructionism paradigm, which adopts relative realism ontology, transactional epistemology, and Gadamer’s hermeneutic phenomenology, offers a relevant, multi-perspectival philosophical foundation for EE research, supporting transactional relationships within contexts of multiple possibilities. Research limitations/implications – Social Constructionism does not necessarily support the individualistic paradigm, as advocated by constructivists; and the values associated with the former encourage a more collaborative and cooperative approach different from the latter. Practical implications – The paper supports the understanding that applying experiential learning through inter-disciplinary and inter-professional learning is regarded as an approach beneficial for educators, institutions and learners, within the context of EE. Originality/value – This paper offers a holistic conceptual framework of Social Constructionism that draws on the “Gestalt Approach”, and highlights the harmony between the ontological, epistemological and methodological underpinnings of Social Constructionism. The paper demonstrates the relevance of the proposed framework in EE research within the context of an empirical study, which is different in that it focuses on the delivery aspect of EE by considering the views of the providers (educators), an hitherto under-researched area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-337
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2015


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