The recent BBC story about Zuru, a toy business based in Hong Kong but originating in New Zealand, is just one of a long list of media stories highlighting that entrepreneurs engage in experimentation and practice on their entrepreneurial journey. Many are not ‘educated’ to be an entrepreneur, but do engage in self-learning for personal and business growth. In doing so, who and where do they get their information from? What role does entrepreneurial scholarship play? And what do they think about entrepreneurship scholars and scholarship in this regard?
First, it is worth noting that in questioning the role of entrepreneurship scholars and their engagement with practice, researchers acknowledge the impressive efforts of those in this community; indeed, the study of entrepreneurship is often informed by experiences of, or close interaction, with entrepreneurs/ship. Nevertheless, questions do remain about how valuable research is? How applicable is it? Do entrepreneurs have the time to expend on finding academic research, recognising its value to them and then applying it? And if they don’t, then whom are academics creating knowledge for? And why?
These are the kinds of question that Dr Ainurul Rosli, Reader in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship and Director of Business Engagement at Brunel Business School, and her co-author Dr Isla Kapasi, Lecturer in the Management Division and member of the Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies, are seeking to explore. In the research project, ‘Entrepreneurship Scholars don’t know about Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurs do’, supported by funding from ISBE, Dr Rosli and Dr Kapasi will be taking an engaged scholarship approach to answering such questions. To that end, they will work with nascent, new and established business owners to understand this pressing issue. Building on several initial pilot engagements, this research will be informed by the following questions:
- What is the applicability and practicality of entrepreneurship knowledge for entrepreneurs?
- And why do they think this is the case?
Dr Rosli and Dr Kapasi want to explore the ideological and practical aspects of any challenges/resistance (if any) experienced by entrepreneurs.
The researchers said:
“On reflection, these are intimidating questions; perhaps we are trying to investigate something that has been hiding under a heavy rock (or that we willingly ignore?). We are unsure if we are able to get under this heavy rock, but it is our ambition to help enlighten and broaden the debate on how entrepreneurship scholars present themselves in different contexts/boundaries beyond academia and better understand the value of our research practice and contributions.
Furthermore, with the rise in the rejection of, or boredom with, ‘experts’ or ‘intellectuals’, we need to inspect our social usefulness, and how important that is ‘beyond the academy’. As individual entrepreneurship scholars, and in our roles as Co-Chair of the Practice and Impact SIG with ISBE, we position this research as a call to conversation within the entrepreneurship scholarly community and hope you will join us at the ISBE conference in November to further discuss these topics. In addition, we have plans for a critical examination of this topic for early Summer 2020 hosted by Brunel University. Join us!”
About the researchers:
Dr Ainurul Rosli is a Reader in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship and Director of Business Engagement at Brunel Business School. Her current research interests include: university-industry collaboration, engaged scholarship, social impact, community entrepreneurship, and team entrepreneurship.
Dr Isla Kapasi is a lecturer in the Management Division and member of the Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies. Her current research interests include: critical entrepreneurship studies, entrepreneurship motivations, low-income enterprise, and engaged scholarship.