- Social Entrepreneur Motivations
Mapping the motivations of social entrepreneurs is instrumental in determining the policies that can impact the sector. Social entrepreneurs as altruistic economic actors do not fit the classic economic agency paradigm. There is need for qualitative and quantitative research on the determinants of their roles, agendas and relations as suggested in an article by Christopoulos and Vogl (2015) in the Journal of Social Entrepreneurship. Multiple methodologies and research designs can be suitable for this task. Representative surveys, informant surveys, in-depth interviews, psychometric tests, network surveys etc. This area of research is particularly conducive to mixed method designs that can employ semantic analysis (ibid), network analysis, qualitative analysis and quantitative analysis.
- Leadership and Social Networks
Decision making within small groups is affected by the power differentials between actors and the way actors relate to one another. These relations in turn affect the capacity of those with a psychological predisposition to leadership to impact decisions. This effect of networks is presumed instrumental for the way groups cohere, fragment, conflict, innovate and bond. Network structure has also been proven to affect the efficiency of decision making, the engagement and motivation of participants and the equity of decisions. This theme lends itself to those with an interest on the analysis of relations. Research can be conducted through a qualitative analysis of monitored decisions, the use of semi-experimental designs (see Christopoulos, 2016), social experiments, psychometrics, field-experiments and decision analysis among others. Research skills in any or all of qualitative, quantitative or network analysis methodologies and research designs would be instrumental.
- Political Entrepreneurs in the Policy Cycle
Political agents sometimes “punch above their weight”. Often, political outcomes cannot be explained by a mere aggregation of the political preferences of actors leveraged by their power. Indeed, it has been suggested that political entrepreneurs, brokers and oscillating entrepreneurs-brokers (Christopoulos and Ingold, 2015 & Ingold, Fischer & Christopoulos, 2020) affect political outcomes by also leveraging their relations and in this way counteract the impact of more powerful or better resourced actors in their network. Such a study would require identifying a volatile policy area and employing a policy network model (Knoke, 2011) to define a boundary among actors/stakeholders for whom the policy outcomes are highly salient. A scholarly interest in policy making analysis is assumed. Qualitative, quantitative, and network analysis methodologies and research designs could all bring interesting insights into such an analysis. Models for decision analysis could also be of interest here, while a theory of the policy process (such as Sabatier’s Advocacy Coalition Framework or Ostrom’s Institutional Analysis and Development framework) could be employed to offer a guide in theorizing how political processes impact policy outcomes.
- Combining policy evaluation and policy analysis (regional or innovation policy)
An integration of policy evaluation and policy analysis can determine whether changes to a policy area are feasible. The evaluation of policy will determine its impact. Policy analysis will determine how the policy was devised. We need to remember that political compromise is often behind a policy outcome. This means that it is not only the interest of actors and stakeholders that count but the context of the political process. I am keen on studies of regional economic policy or innovation policy. For example, a study could entail taking account of the impact of the interaction between political and economic actors to regional development (Christopoulos, 2014) enhancing it with an evaluation of regional policies. This will represent a more comprehensive evaluation of feasible alternatives than usually offered in the literature. A research design that involves field work is strongly advised. A skill in econometric analysis is desirable but not essential. Excellent methodological training is however indispensable to allow navigating the combination of the relevant research frames.