Centre for Knowledge, Innovation, Technology and Enterprise

Entrepreneurship Research Group

Entrepreneurship Research Group

The Entrepreneurship Research Group is a focal point for scholars interested in entrepreneurship, enterprise and small and medium sized-enterprise (SME) research within the Business School and across the University.

The Entrepreneurship Research Group facilitates research and provides an anchor point for conversations, opportunities and collaborative activity for all things entrepreneurial. The group is led by Professor Matt Gorton.

Aims of the Research Group

The Entrepreneurship Research Group seeks to improve understanding and practice of entrepreneurship and enterprise through:

  • conducting excellent research; 
  • working with businesses, entrepreneurs and policy makers as well as academics within and beyond the fields of entrepreneurship and enterprise;
  • organising workshops, seminars and conferences to inform, engage and positively affect others;
  • fostering the development of new and early career researchers.

The group has four main research themes: entrepreneurship and international development, entrepreneurial ecosystems, critical entrepreneurship studies and entrepreneurship and education.

Entrepreneurship and International Development

Entrepreneurship and International Development

Research under this theme seeks to improve understanding and practice of entrepreneurship in relation to international development. In particular, it is interested in topics such as microfinance, social entrepreneurship, inclusive growth, entrepreneurship in post-conflict environments and other general issues related to international development and poverty such as the sustainable development goals. This includes a project funded by Comic Relief, led by Robert Newbery, on scaling innovative rural distribution for farmer inputs. PhD students working within this theme include Vajira Balasuriya (the effectiveness of microfinance in a post-conflict environment) and Fardeen Dodo (entrepreneurship, contexts and development: a multilevel study). Published papers include:

Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Entrepreneurial ecosystems refer to the environments within which entrepreneurs operate. Some ecosystems provide more favourable habitats for entrepreneurship than others in terms of facilitating start-up, survival and growth of small businesses. The entrepreneurial ecosystem approach is valuable in moving beyond an individual / firm-level focus on entrepreneurial activities and for understanding the potential links between entrepreneurship and regional development. Oliver Mallett's current research explores the historical development of these ecosystems. Other work considers the nature of specific sectoral and territorial ecosystems. For instance, working with colleagues in the Centre for Rural Economy, we study rural enterprise and entrepreneurship in the UK, undertaking research on the relative performance of rural enterprises for BEIS and the Enterprise Research Centre. The Innogrow project considers how best to support innovation within rural SMEs. The Strength2Food project considers, amongst other things, how to stimulate cooperation and innovation in agri-food supply chains, with a focus on regional foods and short food supply chains. VALUMICS seeks to understand food value chains and network dynamics. PhD students working within this theme include Phuong Tran (Opportunism, social norms and supplier development strategies in agri-food chains). Published papers include:

Critical Entrepreneurship Studies

Critical Entrepreneurship Studies

Is entrepreneurship necessarily a good, benevolent thing, for the entrepreneur and society more broadly? What sort of people do entrepreneurship, and what happens during the enterprise process when an entrepreneurs’ identity is not aligned with (often narrow) societal and cultural ideals about who an entrepreneur is? These are key questions within critical entrepreneurship studies (CES). Typically utilising empirical data and qualitative frameworks, CES is especially concerned with how gender and ethnicity relate to the enterprise process, and the experiences and identities of those doing entrepreneurship. CES also engages with enterprise policies, challenging the notion that all enterprise should be promoted and making nuanced arguments about how different sorts of enterprise policies need to relate to different sorts of entrepreneurs. Through its application, CES allows us to challenge – often incorrect - assumptions about business venturing processes, and the experiences and identities of entrepreneurs.

Within KITE, Andreas Giazitzoglu leads research on this theme. Examples of CES in KITE include 1) Giazitzoglu’s (with Down 2017) insight into how male entrepreneurs 'perform', in the Goffmanesque sense, when ritually meeting as an entrepreneurial fraternity; 2) how deprivation prevents people participating in enterprise, especially due to their limited cultural capital (Giazitzoglu, 2018), 3) how a fear of failure helps or hinders the enterprise process (Giazitzoglu and colleagues, 2016) and 4) discussions about the identities of enterprising people whose self-presentations don’t conform to societal expectations of the normative enterprising agent (Giazitzoglu with Down, 2015). PhD students working within this theme include Jehana Copilah-Ali (critical representations of entrepreneurship in entre-tainment programmes) and Olutayo Korede (how ethnic and entrepreneurial identities influence the experience of social mobility for first generation African Caribbean immigrant small business owners). Published papers include:

  • Giazitzoglu A. Deprived entrepreneurs, cultural capital and value co-creation: an empirical insight into an exclusionary relationship. Journal of Strategic Marketing 2017. In Press.
  • Giazitzoglu A, Down S. Performing entrepreneurial masculinity: an ethnographic account. International Small Business Journal 2017, 35(1), 40-60.
  • Cacciottia G, Hayton JC, Mitchell JR, Giazitzoglu A. A reconceptualization of fear of failure in entrepreneurship. Journal of Business Venturing 2016, 31(3), 302-325.
  • Down S, Giazitzoglu A. Identity and Entrepreneurship. In: Baker, T; Welter, F, ed. Routledge Companion to Entrepreneurship. Routledge, 2014.

Entrepreneurship and Education

Entrepreneurship and Education

Entrepreneurship education and support for owner managers can positively affect rates of business start-up, survival and growth. Research from across KITE and the Entrepreneurship Research Group informs the Master’s programmes in Arts, Business & Creativity and Innovation, Creativity & Entrepreneurship and graduates from those programmes have gone on to found businesses such as Trendlistr, NOVELTEA and Jam Jar Cinema. Robert Newbery monitors and evaluates the impact of entrepreneurship and innovation programmes, with a current involvement with research commercialisation programmes and the impact of serious games upon entrepreneurial outcomes. Lucille Valentine is using her teaching practice to study the influence of teaching innovation for commercialisation on the entrepreneurial intention of postgraduate biomedical students. Janette Young is undertaking research with students on the entrepreneurial journey, using online journals for reflection in higher education. The Captured project, led by Fiona Whitehurst and Paul Richter, explores the ways anchor institutions, such as universities, business schools and large firms, can support the development of small businesses. As part of the programme, small businesses in North East England gain advice and support from experienced facilitators and senior managers from some of the region’s larger organisations to develop their businesses. Further afield, Robert Newbery is actively supporting the Entrepreneurship Educator Foundation for East Africa. PhD students working within this theme include Andrea Lane (challenges and professional development opportunities for entrepreneurship educators in East Africa).

Published papers include:

  • Mallett O, Richter P, Whitehurst F, Sear L. Reconceptualising anchor institutions: a new direction for regionally-focused small firm support. In: ISBE 2016 Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. 2016, Paris, France.
  • Whitehurst F, Richter P. Engaged scholarship in small firm and entrepreneurship research: Grappling with Van der Ven's diamond model in retrospect to inform future practice. International Small Business Journal 2018. In Press.
  • Newbery R, Lean J, Moizer J. Evaluating the impact of serious games: the effect of gaming on entrepreneurial intent. Information Technology and People 2016, 29(4), 733-749.

Current research

Research currently being pursued within the ERG addresses a range of entrepreneurship, enterprise and SME themes, including:

  • entrepreneurship:
    • academic entrepreneurship, intention and commercialisation
    • education and impact assessment
    • entrepreneurial legitimacy
    • fear of failure
    • financial decision-making
    • gender and identity
    • high tech entrepreneurship
    • mature entrepreneurship
    • microfinance
    • new business models
    • poverty alleviation and international development
    • social and sustainable entrepreneurship
  • enterprise and SMEs:
    • agriculture and rural development
    • employment relations
    • formal and informal business support
    • regulation of small firms
  • entrepreneurship, inclusive growth and the sustainable development goals