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versão impressa ISSN 1692-0279

AD-minister  no.34 Medellín jan./jun. 2019 

Original articles

Qualitative Methods in Media Entrepreneurship Research: Clarification of the terms Framework, Model and Pattern

Métodos cualitativos en la investigación sobre emprendimiento de medios: Aclaración de los términos “marco”, “modelo” y “patrón”


1 Assistant Professor of Media Management in the Faculty of Management at University of Tehran. He serves as a Visiting Lecturer in the Centre for Communication, Media and Information Technologies in Aalborg University of Denmark as well as Berlin University of Digital Sciences. Datis has a PhD in Media Management and an MA in Entrepreneurship with a specialty in New Venture Creation. Focused on media entrepreneurship as his main area of interest. He is Head of the special interest group of ‘Emerging Media Markets’ in the European Media Management Association (EMMA) and founding Editor-In-Chief of Journal of Media Management and Entrepreneurship (JMME). He has authored numerous articles in English and Persian and has served in editorial roles of several academic journals. Irán ORCID: Email:


The interchangeable use of some terms that imply on specific concepts and constructs has been a challenge for the students and novice researchers. In particular, terms such as framework, model, pattern and the verbs such as design, identify, present, propose have been used in several cases in the different meaning and cause some confusion for the researchers. This paper is a conceptual article that clarifies the use of such technical terms in qualitative researches in the area of media entrepreneurship. Simply, it defines framework as the limit and boundaries of a never studied phenomenon that includes factors and elements; model as a depiction of the relationship among the factors and elements that predicts how the phenomenon works, and pattern as a previously successfully examined model that can be benchmarked by the future researchers. Then the proper verbs for these technical terms have been suggested. The findings are applicable in the media entrepreneurship and similar areas of qualitative researches, including creative industries.

JEL: M10, M15, C18

Key words: Media Entrepreneurship; Research Method; Qualitative methods; Framework; Model; Pattern.


El uso intercambiable de algunos términos que implican conceptos y construcciones diferentes ha sido un desafío para los estudiantes e investigadores principiantes. En particular, términos como “marco”, “modelo” y “patrón” y los verbos como “diseñar”, “identificar”, “presentar” y “proponer” han sido utilizados en varios casos en sus diferentes significados y causan confusión para los investigadores. Este texto es un artículo conceptual que aclara el uso de dichos términos técnicos en investigaciones cualitativas en el área del emprendimiento de medios. De manera simple, define el marco como el límite y los límites de un fenómeno nunca estudiado que incluye factores y elementos; el modelo como una representación de la relación entre los factores y elementos que predice cómo funciona el fenómeno, y el patrón como un modelo previamente examinado con éxito que puede ser evaluado por los futuros investigadores. Luego se han sugerido los verbos apropiados para estos términos técnicos. Los hallazgos son aplicables en los medios de comunicación empresarial y áreas similares de investigaciones cualitativas, incluidas las industrias creativas.

JEL: M10, M15, C18

Palabras-clave: Emprendimientos de medios; método de investigación; métodos cualitativos; marco; modelo; patrón.


I have taught media management and entrepreneurship in my last ten years in different countries, including Iran, Denmark and Germany, plus several guest lecturing in other countries. In all of my experiences that involved with supervision activities, I have been faced with careless use of technical word in the title and problem statements of proposals, theses and research projects. When I assign as a reviewer for a scientific journal, the story is the same. I face with different use of some technical words with no care of what they really mean. In the study of media entrepreneurship as an underdeveloped area of study with unclear boundaries with entrepreneurship and media management, the problem is more challenging. Students apply the terms inappropriately and then during the project they understand that what they are seeking for needs to be addressed by another word. To reduce this confusion and to provide a written text as a guide for those students, is the main incentive to author this conceptual article.


In the last two decades the subject of media entrepreneurship has received increasing attention from scholars, both established and novices. In a thorough review of the literature, we find Habann (2000) has investigated media enterprises from a resource view perspective. We also find the possibly first special issue of media entrepreneurship in 2002 in the international journal of media management as media and entrepreneurship. This special issue covers some subjects that are not particularly studied media entrepreneurship, but they had an entrepreneurial look at the media enterprises. For example, Frank and Schreier (2002) focused on entrepreneurial opportunities, and Gerport and Negal (2002) studied venture capital firms in the mobile business of Germany. Then we find Robert Picard (2004) who authored an interesting article about the typology of risks in family- based media enterprises. In 2005, we see a first article that focused on the media entrepreneurs: Ngwainmbi (2005) in an article of “The Black media entrepreneur and economic implications for the 21st century” in the Journal of Black Studies provides a perspective to study the media entrepreneurs as a subject of study, not a context. Consequently, Dennis et al (2006) raised the level from individual to the firm level and studied media companies and their strategies. There is an article from Hoag and Campaine on the subject of media entrepreneurship in the era of big media. The date and publisher of this article have never found, but based on google scholar we assume it is a workshop paper that is published in 2006.

Since 2007 onward, the research in media entrepreneurship boosts. Min Hang (2007), Leona Achtenhagen (2008) and Anne Hoag (2008) can be called founding mothers of the new stream in media entrepreneurship research. Min Hang published her doctoral thesis and then papers from it in the subject of the organizational mode of media ventures. Then, she published an insightful paper that titles “media and entrepreneurship: what do we know and where should we go”, accompanying with Aldo Von Weezle. This paper can be seen as an announcement for born of media entrepreneurship as a serious area of study. Berthod et al, in a short paper that presented in a workshop at MMTC, Jonkoping International Business School, introduced new media entrepreneurship, focusing on the media ventures that are based on internet communities. In that year, the first quantitative research that converged the subjects of media and entrepreneurship together get published. Hindle and Klyver (2007) explored the relationship between media coverage and participation in entrepreneurship. We do not consider this research as a contribution in the field of media entrepreneurship, because it shows which factors in the media effect on the general entrepreneurial activities, and not merely on media entrepreneurship.

In 2008, Anne Hoag published a paper titled measuring media entrepreneurship she suggested that there are three levels for the study of media entrepreneurship and also showed how media entrepreneurship can be expanded in different levels. Leona Achtenhagen studied entrepreneurship in German traditional media. In this year, we see two papers in the subject that are published in the journal of media business studies, that is published by MMTC, Jonkoping University in Sweden. The first is published by McKelive and Picard (2008) on the growth and development of new and young media firms, and the next is Dubini and Provera (2008) in the subject of organizational form for enterprises that operate in the field of music.

In the next four years there is a recession in the researches in the field, but it sounds like a preparation for the change of focus on the digital media arena. Two first papers looked by a strategic lens: In 2009 Vukanovic (2009) published a paper about strategic management of digital media in the digital economies and in the next year Shao (2010) examined digital strategy of U.S media and then Aldo von Weezle (2010) authored a paper that focused on the core of entrepreneurship: “creative destruction: why not researching entrepreneurial media?”. In 2011, in the European media management association conference, Khajeheian and Arbatani (2011) presented an article about media entrepreneurship in the age of economic recession and how it reconstructs the media industry. In 2012 Campaign and Hoag published their workshop paper in a more concrete and academic form and extracted the factors that support and hinder new entry in media markets.

Since 2013 we observe a new raise in media entrepreneurship studies. I published my framework for social media entrepreneurship (Khajeheian, 2013). This article that has been one of the most-cited articles in the subject until today, presented the first framework for the study of media entrepreneurship and suggested 23 factors and five categories that result media entrepreneurship in social media. Ifeduba (2013) studied media entrepreneurship in Nigeria and extracted new patterns, orientations and strategies. In that year, the first article in the subject of media entrepreneurship teaching published. Ferrier (2013) published an article about the curriculum development of media entrepreneurship.

Between 2014 and 2017 the several books and papers in the field of media entrepreneurship have been published. Min Hang (2016) published the first book in the field of media entrepreneurship titled ‘Media Corporate Entrepreneurship’. this book, as the title express, focuses on corporate entrepreneurship in media organizations. Will et al (2016) published a chapter entitled ‘media venturing and media management’ in the book ‘managing media firms and organizations’ that is edited by Gregory Lowe and Charles Brown, two presidents of European Media Management Association. in that chapter they used two subjects of opportunity and digital media product as the central topic of their chapter. One of the contributions in the field provided by Khajeheian and Tadayoni (2016) who studied how public service broadcasts can foster media entrepreneurship as a public service as well as a source of creativity for their content. They researched in the Public service broadcast of Denmark, Danish Radio (DR) and developed the theory of strategic acquisition by adding a third agent of intermediaries to the other actors of large organizations and small enterprises. They suggested that while large organizations have an advantage in resources and small enterprises have the advantage of innovation, the intermediaries get benefit from contracting, and they facilitate the exchange of value between these two actors and make an eftcient media market.

In this period of time (2014-2017), Khajeheian published three papers in the subject of media entrepreneurship, that two of them are at the policy level. In 2014, he authored an article about media entrepreneurship policy for developing countries, and argued that in the age of globalization of knowledge, national innovation systems have a significant effect on media entrepreneurship in the societies and suggested policy makers to create a media environment that large media and small enterprises can exchange the value. Also in a response to F.C.C Telecommunication Act, he published a policy review article (Khajeheian, 2016a) and argued that the media policy-makers need to consider fostering of entrepreneurship as the main target, and instead of regulations, try to set a framework for the growth of small media firms. Another publication of him studied the business model innovation based on audience commodification and suggested small media firms to invent new business models based on the user engagement mechanisms (Khajeheian, 2016b).

Since 2017, we observe a boom in media entrepreneurship research. Several special issues, books and journals are published in these years. A special issue of media entrepreneurship in the International Journal of Media Management, including four articles (Price Schultz and Jones, 2017; Zboralska, 2017; Sindik and Graybeal, 2017; Hassenpusch and Baumann, 2017) accompanied by an editorial from professor Leona Achtenhagen: ‘Media Entrepreneurship-Taking Stock and Moving Forward’ provided a clear image from the status of research in media entrepreneurship. In the article ‘Media Entrepreneurship: A consensual definition’, possibly the most comprehensive definition of media entrepreneurship provided by Khajeheian (2017). Also a special issue of entrepreneurship and innovation in media markets get announced in the Global Media Journal - Canadian Edition, but unfortunately due to pass away of Mahmoud Eid, Editor-in-Chief, the journal stopped for a long time and at the time of writing of this article has not published yet. Finally, Khajeheian and Friedrichsen (2017) published a book chapter in the aspect of corporate media entrepreneurship and depicted how television can get benefit from the creativity of audiences and collect them as an inventory of innovation.

In 2018, the book of ‘competitiveness in emerging markets: Market dynamic at the age of technological disruptions’ covers media entrepreneurship in four different levels: two chapters in broadcasting level (Jensen and Sund, 2018; Murschetz and Prandner, 2018; Karimi and Salavatian, 2018), three chapters in the level of enterprises (Gladysz et al, 2018; Arbatani et al, 2018; Hajmohammadi, 2018; Salamzadeh, 2018; Labafi and Williams, 2018), two papers in the level of individual media entrepreneurs (Tajeddin et al, 2018; Tokbaeva, 2018) and finally three chapters in the macro level and policy and regulations (Reboucas, 2018; Layton, 2018; Safari, 2018). Also in an article that published in the Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Emerging Economies, Tsourvakas and Riskos (2018) identified emergent success factors of entrepreneurial e-media companies; and Cicek (2018) published a paper about social media management. Khajeheian (2018) also researched enterprise social media and discussed how the communication style in media enterprises affects the team.

Finally, the year 2019 seems to be a very particular year for media entrepreneurship research, due to the launch of three new journals. Journal of Media Management and Entrepreneurship (JMME) published its first issue at the beginning of this year with five articles. Horst and Murschetz (2019) in ‘strategic media entrepreneurship: theory development and problematization’ shed a light on the strategic aspect of media entrepreneurship. Tokbaeva (2019) studied the case of the Russian market and how russian media managers act entrepreneurially in the evolving market of Russia. Sreekala Girija (2019) studied the political economy of media entrepreneurship and how commercialization and commodification work in the business model of a digital news media enterprise. Hossein (2019), studied ubiquitous social media on the mobile phone as an incentive for media entrepreneurship. Finally, Chen (2019) investigated the effect of user motivation, cognition and behavior in collaborative social networks. These five articles accompanied by a book review of Hang’s media corporate entrepreneurship (Li, 2019), an industry report of Aldo van Weezle and an editorial from the Editor in Chief (Khajeheian, 2019).

Aalborg University Press launched ‘Nordic Journal of Media Management’ that is the first journal in the field that is published by a university press rather than a commercial publisher. ‘Media Management Review’ is another newly launched journal in the field. This open access journal publishes novel researches in the field of media management with a specific focus on media entrepreneurship and media businesses. All three new journals are launched in 2019, and marks this year as a special year for media management research.

In addition to the abovementioned, a special issue of ‘Media Entrepreneurship in Web 3.0’ has been announced in the journal of Ad-minster as a collection of conference papers. By that conference reports it can be understood that seven articles in the subject of media entrepreneurship is expected to be published in this special issue. Another special issue that are expected to be published at the end of this year is the special issue of ‘media entrepreneurship in emerging markets’ in the Baltic Journal of Management, a prestigious journal in the field of management that publishes by Emerald.

Such expansion of publication opportunities in the year 2019 signals for a significant increase in the academic attention to the media entrepreneurship. Arbatani et al (2019) in their review of higher education institutes that teach media management world- wide, show that the interest to the business side of media management is increasing and it is expected to see the continuation of the trend in the upcoming years.

In spite of such dramatic growth of interest, the ambiguity is not yet gone. Nascent researchers, students of related fields, and newcomer researchers frequently ask about the coverage, boundaries and more importantly, research methods that can be used in the study of media entrepreneurship. In my article ‘Media Entrepreneurship: A Consensual Definition’ I tried to clear the coverage of media entrepreneurship and the levels of analysis as well as the areas it covers. By reducing the confusion in the boundaries, we face with the problem a lack of particular definition for technical terms in media entrepreneurship research. therefore, In the current article I aim to provide the target researchers with clear guidance of research methods that they can use. I expect this article will be considered as a reference for students and researchers for the correct use of methods to develop new frameworks, models, patterns and theories.


These three concepts have been the cornerstone of many diftculties and challenges. Frequently we face with students and researchers that use these three words interchangeably, while they are not. Each of these, imply on a specific idea that must be used carefully, especially in media entrepreneurship research that is not established yet. Researchers must understand where they stand and which one of concepts is proper for them to use. Let’s start with the term ‘framework’.

When we have no previously proven model or an established theory or something to stand on it, we need to develop a framework. Thus in theorizing a new phenomenon, a framework helps us to understand the boundaries, the constructing factors, the categories and the basics of how the phenomenon works. Them we can use thes understandings to develop our knowledge about that phenomenon, by investigation of relationships that predict the behavior and performance of our subject.

I getting used to get benefit from football to give a clear idea about what these three confusing and overlapping concepts are talking about. So let’s borrow from this exciting sport again for a better understanding of what framework is. The football ground (and the rules) is a good example of a framework. The ground determines where the ball is in and where it is out or in what location of the ball a goal is scored. It also depicts that there will be two teams of eleven men, and three referees. It also gives us a clue about how a match is won or lost. By all of these, we get a sense of how football gets played.

Figure 1: Framework depicts the elements and rules 

In a similar way, a framework helps us to understand the basics of an unknown phenomenon and get prepared for more advance understanding in the future. For the study of media entrepreneurship, as a less-explored phenomenon, frameworks are very useful and it is the reason that I used the framework as the core of my first research article that I published in the subject of media entrepreneurship: “A framework for media entrepreneurship in social media”. Considering that there is no prior knowledge about what the media entrepreneurship is, and what factors play in it, I understood that it is not possible to reach an advanced understanding of how media entrepreneurship can be done successfully. Thus I started to develop a framework to understand the boundaries of media entrepreneurship and the involving factors. I extracted 23 elements and categorized them into five categories. I also innovated a wheel from four controllable categories and a road from the uncontrollable category of infrastructures. Figure 2 depicts that framework.

Source: Khajeheian, D. (2013). New venture creation in social media platform; Towards a framework for me- dia entrepreneurship. In Handbook of social media management (pp. 125-142). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Figure 2: Media Entrepreneurship Framework (Khajeheian, 2013

By such a framework, it becomes clear that what media entrepreneurship can be. Of course it is very possible that some factors are neglected or a better categorization can be made. No framework is complete, or perfect. It is an effort to explain the phenomenon. As it can be seen, there is no relationship between the elements, and there is no explanation to predict how it works. It is just a clarification. But it creates a ground for future researches to advance our knowledge.

Considering the exploratory nature of framework development, qualitative methods are more proper methods. Content analysis, theme analysis, ethnographic research and means of data collection such as interview and observation are more popular in developing frameworks.


A model explains relations and how the elements connect. It depicts the relationships and how the phenomenon performs. Back to the football ground, the model shows how the eleven players can score. Model of classic 4-4-2 shows the arranging of men as four defenders, four midfielders and two forwards; while 3-5-2 advises different arrangement of players, by three defenders, five midfielders and two forwards. It is obvious that these two models inspired from two different perspectives to the match. One coach trusts on a linear defense system, and another relies on wingers to use the width of the ground. The similar is applicable for a research model. When the elements are previously extracted and a framework is developed, a research ‘model’ tests how they relate together and what correlations exist. A model proposes relationships and then tests it to confirm or decline if it works. Back to my framework of 2013, I identified 23 elements in my framework and categorized them into five classes. However, I didn’t suggest how elements connect to result in media entrepreneurship. Clearly, I was faced with vague and ambiguity of what the media entrepreneurship is at all! Thus I had to extract the constructive elements, without care of how they will connect together. The development of such a framework was very necessary. But after the publishing of the framework, a model is required. This model must explain how these 23 elements connect together and which one effect on which another.

Figure 3: Different Models of football 

The one who makes this relationship, is like a football tactician. He/she proposes the proper arrangement of players to score. And like football that different coaches use different systems, it is completely possible that different researchers propose different relationships for elements. Thus, a model is an effort to predict how the system works successfully. In the literature review of media entrepreneurship, I found no model for media entrepreneurship. for this reason, it is needed to develop the framework to a model. Media entrepreneurship models can be in two particular types: causation models, that study what causes media entrepreneurship and effectuation models, that study what are the effects of an entrepreneurial action. Media entrepreneurship policy articles that cited in the literature section, mostly follow the causation approach, because they seek to understand the ‘cause’ of entrepreneurship and to motivate them by setting policies. Some articles that study the consequences of media entrepreneurship, follow the effectuation approach, because they are seeking to understand the effect of media entrepreneurship on economic development, or creativity, or unemployment, or other impacts it may have on the society or particular sectors.

Figure 4: A Model predicts and explains relationships 

To work with models, normally the quantitative methods are more suitable. Correlation, factor analysis, Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) and similar analysis methods can be used to test the models, and questionnaires, data tracing and quantitative data collection tools are the regular means for collecting the data for the test of models.


And what the pattern is? Let’s imagine the patterns that our mothers used for needlework. The pattern was a previously successful design, that our mothers used as a guide to creating such design by their needlework. The same is true in research. A pattern is a successful sample that has been implemented somewhere and now we follow it to repeat the success. Again, let’s back to football. We understood that a model is a specific arrangement that a coach uses for his players to win the match. While there are some generic models, like 4-4-2. 3-5-2, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 etc., coaches innovate with making some changes in the implementation of the generic model, based on their analysis of the rival team. When one of the models works and triumph a tournament, this model becomes a pattern that other coaches follow. Total football of Dutch Rinus Michels, or Guardiola’s Tiki-Taka, or Italian Marcelo Lippi’s 4-4-1-1 are some examples of successful models that turned to patterns. So, a pattern is not something new to invent, but is a successful implementation of a model that is a candidate to be used in other contexts. In media entrepreneurship we can use patterns as benchmarks for the success of entrepreneurial actions in media. It can be a successful policy, or a well-performed style of leading a team of creatives, or a workable method of exploring business opportunities, or any similar successful experience can be mentioned as a pattern.

Figure 5: Marcello Lippi’s 4-4-1-1 becomes a pattern that benchmarked with many coaches after the success of Italy in world cup 2006 

Therefore, we cannot use these three terms interchangeably. Any of them implies on a specific stage of development. We face with an unknown and theoretically undiscovered phenomenon, a framework will help to structure our knowledge and to build our first foundations of understanding it. Elements, dimensions and borders appear in the framework. In the next stage of the progress of our knowledge, we develop the framework with setting relationships among variables and elements. “Relationship” is a key term that differs between framework and model. Finally, when a model works successfully and shows its merit, it will be a pattern for others to imitate and follow.

The abovementioned paragraph also implies on something tricky on verbs. During my years of teaching, I have received some combinations of words in students’ proposals: Designing a Pattern, Designing a model, Developing a Pattern, etc. Now that we know the difference between these three terms, it is time to use corrects verbs. We “Present” a framework, because it is our catch from the phenomenon and can be different from the understanding of other researchers. As Carlile and Christiansen (2004) argue in their circle of theory building, after observation, we categories our data and then make our statement of relationships. Thus it is very depended on the collected data from different samples that most possibly are different case by case. Therefore, frameworks might be different in various researches and researchers “Present” their frameworks. I normally suggest my students to use “to present”, or words such as “to offer”, “to suggest” and similar words when they aim to work on the framework. When we work on a model, the verb is different. We use “develop” when addressing a model, because we use a framework as the basis and try to understand what relationship exists among its elements. Thus we further develop a framework as a model and the most appropriate word is “to develop” a model. It is possible that a researcher presents a framework and develops it as a model in one research, as many of the researches that are conducted by mixed methods. This study can use the verb “to design”, because they present a framework and develop it as a model in one step and in fact they design and develop a model. Finally, the appropriate verb for a pattern is “to present” or “to offer” or “to introduce”. Because the researcher reports a working model as a successful and workable model for other cases, thus a pattern is presented to imitate and apply.

Figure 6: Carlile and Christiansen (2004) Circle of theory building 

Case studies are very popular in media entrepreneurship research. These case studies can present some patterns for media entrepreneurship actions. As I defined, the pattern is a previously successful experience of something that can be used by others to gain a similar result. This is what case studies do. They study an actual experience and show the readers how to repeat the successful learnings or prevent the fails.


Media entrepreneurship as a field of interest is becoming more and more popular among media management researchers and scholars. Ubiquitous media on mobile phones (Hossein, 2019) and inexpensive digital equipment (Khajeheian et al, 2018) have made media a fertile ground for entrepreneurial activities, and in consequence, it is expected that media entrepreneurship will be even getting more research interest in the near future. However, in the absence of a strong theoretical foundation and absence of frameworks and models, researchers face with some diftculties. This conceptual article aimed to provide the researchers, especially students of media management and entrepreneurship a guide for the selection of proper terms for their dissertations and theses as well as research papers, and to present them a clear differentiation among the words and terms.

With the emergence of new technologies, there are new grounds for the study of media entrepreneurship. Blockchain, Big Data (Marashi and Hamidi, 2018; Nemati and Khajeheian, 2018), Internet of Things, and 5G are from the new emerging subjects for the study of media entrepreneurship. By the guidance of this paper, the researchers can decide what term and stage is the most proper one for their research. if there are some frameworks, they can develop them as models, and if there are some models, they can apply those models in real cases to see if it is possible to present a pattern for successful performance. All in all, it is expected that published researches in media entrepreneurship will be increased due to the increasing number of journals and special issues. In such situation, a clear understanding of concepts is more needed and likely, will result more decent researchers.


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Received: November 29, 2018; Accepted: March 25, 2019

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