Language and Entrepreneurial Experience: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Inquiry into Japanese Entrepreneurship

  • Robert Pearce

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


In recent years, a number of Entrepreneurship Studies scholars have called attention to the prospects of a phenomenological approach to researching Entrepreneurship in context. While many current studies have focused on the lived experience of the Entrepreneur, these scholars have not yet considered the fundamental, interpretive role of language in the Entrepreneur’s experience of reality.

By utilizing the hermeneutic phenomenological methodology of Hans Georg Gadamer, this research considers the impact of language on experiential meaning and understanding.

As to explore the merits of this Gadamerian methodological approach, this research investigates the phenomena of “Entrepreneurship” as experienced through the Japanese language. Through a hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry, this qualitative study focuses on the lived experience of the so-called “KIGYOUKA” (起業家) - the Japanese “Emerging Business Specialist”. This inquiry focuses on the meaning and purpose of these experiences as interpreted by the individual. However, Gadamer’s approach not only takes into consideration these experiential interpretations, but also the historic presuppositions, biases and fore-structures embedded into language and how they inform these interpretations, understanding and experience. It is this “Meaning” that the Gadamerian hermeneutic phenomenologist is interested in, “Meaning” as regarded as the structure of our experiences.

To investigate this meaning, this research considers the accounts of 22 Japanese “Entrepreneurs” (the aforementioned KIGYOUKA) regarding their lived experiences as meaningful and intentionality directed. This Gadamerian approach gains understanding of phenomena through the “hermeneutic phenomenological interview” - a collaborative, dialogical approach to qualitative research where the researcher and participant work together to explore meaning and to develop a rich understanding of the phenomena investigated.

This study seeks to inform and develop our current understandings and representations of the human Being central to Entrepreneurship studies, as experienced within specific, interpretive contexts.
Date of Award2 Nov 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorDimo Dimov (Supervisor) & Mairi Maclean (Supervisor)


  • Entrepreneurship
  • Phenomenology

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