Dr Ainurul Rosli hosts panel on the gap between entrepreneurship research and practice

Dr. Ainurul Rosli is a Reader in Enterprise and Enterpreneurship 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 entrepreneuership. She has recently co-hosted a panel, alongside Dr Isla Kapasi, who is a Lecturer in Management at Leeds University Business School, and a member of the Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies, to examine the gap between entrepreneurship research and practice.

Ainurul IMG_4453.JPG

Dr. Ainurul Rosli (Left) and Dr. Isla Kapasi (right)


The panel, entitled “A gap between research and practice – Is it simply a question of means and methods?“, was organised as part of the activities of the Practice & Impact Special Interest Group, of the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE).


In the UK, academics are certainly being encouraged to consider (and prioritise) the (positive!) impact of their research. This is as true for members of the Practice & Impact Special Interest Group, as it is for other UK academics. And in the case of entrepreneurship research, where significant discussion is occurring around the ‘practical’ outcomes that can arise as a result of our research, there is perhaps an inherent requirement and urgency to consider the value and impact of entrepreneurship research.


To that end then, where are the academic and practitioner entrepreneurship community on this journey? To better understand this question, the Practice & Impact SIG of the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE)  hosted a day of events examining these issues at the most recent conference held in Newcastle on 14-15 November. Specifically, Drs. Rosli and Kapasi hosted a panel event with members invited from policy, practice and research to examine the statement: “Scholars don’t know about entrepreneurship; entrepreneurs do”. Panel presentations and subsequent discussions led to many useful insights and ‘top tips’ as summarised below.


First and foremost, the panel identified that the core distinction between different communities, (research, practice and policy), is a question of means and methods. This is neatly summarised in the following idea that individual practitioners know how they do what they do, but the value that an academic brings is a meta-level perspective giving insights into how many entrepreneurs have approached a particular aspect of entrepreneurial activity.


Further, panel members identified dichotomies in language, roles and purpose, and across several areas of interest which are summarised below:



Know their business Know the process
Understand their markets Understand markets
Solve problems Suggest solutions
Know specific details Make ‘higher level’ observations
Do Explain


So how might we engage different parties? Here are six key considerations based on the contributions of panel and audience members:

  1. It’s not all about research. Relationship building is required and there is much complexity in the journey. A first meeting requires clarity that can create a foundation that balances the needs of both parties.
  2. Be motivated and passionate – and communicate this to practitioners! Have a hook that gets the ball rolling and builds a trusted relationship. Further, be clear on selling the (potential) benefits versus selling the research. (Warning: do not oversell as this leads to disappointment for both sides. It’s always better to undersell and over-)
  3. Build credibility as an academic who knows how to work with practitioners. Start small, be consistent and care about the actions taken and outcomes achieved. The more people hear about you, the easier it will be to convince others to collaborate.
  4. Be clear on roles and requirements – negotiate these roles early in the relationship. This will help to address concerns and the differences between academic research and practice.
  5. Translation and selectivity is required. As an academic it is tempting to try to consider all the information we have at our disposal; it is better to be selective and consider what is really relevant to the practitioners you are working with.
  6. Finally, when negotiating initial (or on-going) access try to focus on in-kind contributions, such as hosting meetings or being willing to share your research at events . Everybody is short of cash, and building a relationship is about what you are willing to put on the table beyond cash.


Drs Rosli and Kapasi conclude that there is significant good-will and energy regarding engagement between and across different communities that create and use research. For the academic community, it seems it’s a question of “GoDo” – go out and engage with new audiences for your research and build strong relationships so that your valuable research can have (positive) impact and reach its fullest potential. And in the case of practitioners and policymakers, whilst academics may tend towards the esoteric, there is value in engaging with their research, and the potential to make a positive impact in business and policy.


Dr. Ainurul Rosli can also be found on Twitter: @AinurulRosli.

Celebrating 20 Years of Corporate Brand Scholarship

This month marks the 20th anniversary of what is, arguably, the first article which formally introduced the corporate brand notion viz: Balmer, J.M.T. (1995) Corporate Branding and Connoisseurship, Journal of General Management, (Autumn) 21(1): 24-46. In this article, Professor Balmer argued that senior managers increasingly realised their organisations were brands, but this came with a realisation that corporate brands were fundamentally different from product brands owing to their stakeholder focus, the importance of employees, the key role of the CEO as brand manager and the importance of corporate identity.  JGM has ALSO  kindly made available the follow-up article on corporate brands which explains how corporate brands differ from product brands viz: Balmer, J.M.T. (2001) The Three Virtues and Seven Deadly Sins of Corporate Brand Management, Journal of General Management, (Autumn) 27(1): 1-17.John Balmer

REF recognition is the business for Brunel University London

Brunel Business School has found success in the 2014 REF

Brunel Business School has found success in the 2014 REF

The business education community has recognised Brunel’s success in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), announced last month.

Leading voice in the field, the Association of Business Schools, analysed Brunel Business School’s performance against the 100 other Higher Education Institute business schools in the UK that submitted to the REF.

The resulting league table, which places Brunel University London 12th in the UK, takes into account the department’s GPA (Grade Point Average), its volume of staff submitted for assessment and intensity of research.

The analysis is further recognition of Brunel Business School’s success, after the Times Higher Education’s own analysis placed the department 20th in the UK in its intensity research rankings – up from 65th place in 2008.

Elsewhere, Brunel made the 30th largest submission in the sector, and the 5th largest among London universities. In 2008, the submission to the then Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) was 8% smaller, indicating that the volume of quality research has increased.

The REF, which assesses the quality of research at universities across the country, placed 61% of Brunel’s submitted work in the categories of world-leading and internationally excellent, compared to just 43% in the RAE.

The Association of Business Schools’ analysis can be found here.

(This article first appeared on the Brunel University London website on the 13th January 2015)

Business School Professor Delivers Climate Change Talk Ahead of G20 Summit

Polar Bear Ray HackneyProfessor Ray Hackney gave an invited talk at the prestigious University of New South Wales, Australian Business School, Sydney early this month, just ahead of the G20 summit where climate change was a major agenda item. The Australian Abbott Government, who were elected in 2013 by promising to scrap the carbon tax, have yet to state their post-2020 emission targets.

Professor Hackney presented results of a European study about the impact of ‘Green ICT’ citing evidence that ‘ICT is quickly surpassing air transportation in terms of its carbon footprint’.

Across the developed world, public sector information and communication technologies (ICT) are responsible for approximately 35% of total ICT-related Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

The United Kingdom (UK) government is widely perceived as leading the way in applying Green ICT to make the organizational field of the UK public sector environmentally sustainable.

Taking the Greening Government ICT Strategy as the unit of analysis, a series of qualitative case studies were conducted of the transformative impact of Green ICT in order to identify and elaborate the institutional and organizational mechanisms responsible for delivering direct, enabling, and systemic effects.

The study is therefore unique in its application of Institutional Theory, scope and impact, as indicated by its critical implications for research and practice.

Most significantly, the findings provide valuable insights into how government-led Green ICT-based initiatives can successfully bring about institutional and organizational change towards environmental sustainability and, in particular, reducing ICT-related GHG emissions across both public and private sectors.

The findings have recently been submitted (co-authored with Tom Butler, University College Cork, Ireland) to the Journal of the Association for Information Systems (JAIS).

Professor Ray Hackney is the Chair in Business Systems for Brunel Business School.


Corporate Brands: Twenty Years on (1995-2015) Reflections by Professor John MT Balmer

As we approach the 20th Anniversary of what is arguably the first academic article featured with corporate brands as its theme, the Journal of Brand Management (JBM) is featuring two topical articles on corporate brands: corporate brand Management and corporate brand orientation by the Business School’s Professor of Corporate Marketing, John Balmer. (John Balmer was the author of the 1995 Journal of General Management article “Corporate Branding and Connoisseurship” and held the first chair in corporate brand management.)

Journal of Brand Management COVER

In the first JBM article, published in 2010, entitled “Explicating corporate brands and their management: Reflections and Directions from 1995”, Professor Balmer provides an overview of the insights contained in his seminal article on corporate brands and corporate brand management (published in the Journal of General Management) and notes the influence of the legendary brand practitioner, Stephen King, to the area, and makes reference to literature on how corporate brands differ from product brands and why the CEO is, de facto, an organisation’s corporate brand manager.

The second JBM article is topical, since 2014 marks the anniversary of Dr Mats Urde’s brand orientation concept (Mats Urde is a member of the JBM editorial board). In the article John Balmer formally introduces the corporate brand orientation and also pays tribute to the work of Urde and other scholars working in the brand orientation field.

Linking the brand orientation notion to the corporate brand domain is, Professor Balmer argues, a logical dénouement of the brand orientation notion. Linking the brand orientation notion with corporate brands is timely as we celebrate the 20th anniversaries of the foundational articles of both domains. Making these commentaries freely available to a wide public is a fitting way to mark this most significant anniversary.

Full text of Corporate Brands and their Management from the JBM

Full text of Corporate Brand Orientation from the JBM

Brunel Business School offers an MSc in Applied Corporate Brand Management with Optional Professional Practice

The role of women in research: breaking down gender barriers

Professor Zahir Irani’s article on ‘The role of Women in research’ published in the Education (14th August 2014) reports on how female entrepreneurs and future leaders are making an impact in advanced study, breaking down gender barriers in the process.

profileZahirIraniIn his article, Professor Irani, explains that for women in the Middle East, studying overseas has traditionally been made difficult or even impossible by cultural differences with the West, preventing many women from benefiting from the academic rigour and traditions of the best British and American universities.  Middle East women have been prevented from benefiting from exposure to the latest thinking and culture of intellectual exploration and challenge.  The lack of representation has led to businesses in the region being cut off from the new perspectives and thinking of women involved in HR and business research.

“More must be done to help Middle Eastern women engage in high-level HR research”

explains Professor Irani.  With this in mind, the need to address the diversity issue was a key factor in driving the work at Brunel Business School in London and in forming a partnership with Ahlia University in Bahrain.  The partnership involves a PhD without residence which allows people to undertake a British research degree locally.  Professor Irani goes on to explain that the evidence of the actual need for alternative provision for women is demonstrated by applications to the new programme with half of the participants recruited from across the region being women, which is a higher percentage than expected for this type of higher research degree.

Professor Zahir Irani is Dean of the College of Business Arts and Social Sciences at Brunel University London.  Previously under his leadership, Brunel Business School received the Times Higher Education Award – Business School of the Year 2013. Professor Irani’s research interests are multidisciplinary in nature, and developed from early work on the area of evaluating investments in Manufacturing Information Systems through to more recent works in Transformational Government.

To find out more about the joint PhD between Brunel Business School and Ahlia University please visit the website.

Ground breaking PhD research on middle-ranked business school student attractiveness

Top, rather than middle-ranking, business schools tend to be the focus of academic research. However, a seminal study by Rudaina Mahmoud (Brunel PhD marketing scholar) revealed the attractiveness dimensions valued by international postgraduate students within a prominent middle-ranking metropolitan, business school. Key factors valued by the students included not only a business school’s research profile and teaching, but also the country/city and physical campus.

Raisa X photo 3Rudaina Mahmoud successfully defended her PhD thesis on 14th July and the quality of her work resulted in an exemplary pass (without the need for corrections). Her first supervisor was Professor John M.T. Balmer and her second supervisor Dr Weifeng Chen.

Rudaina Mahmoud (left) with her two examiners: Dr Suraksha Gupta of Brunel Business School (centre) and Dr Trueman of Bradford University School of Management (right).

BBC2 documentary on British Airways follows Prof Balmer’s research in corporate heritage

air-84602_1280 (2)The recent and popular BBC 2 documentary series “British Airways: A Very British Airline” which looks behind the scenes of one of the UK’s most visible brands, has resulted in a renewed interest in this company.  Arguably, this increased interest in the corporate heritage of British Airways is partly owed to the research by our very own Professor John MT Balmer, a leading corporate heritage scholar and Director for the Centre for Research in Marketing (CREAM) in Brunel Business School.  Professor Balmer is known for his scholarship on the British Airways Corporate Brand, and his article in the California Management Review has emphasised the airline’s heritage.

Professor Balmer reflected,

My interest in British Airways dates back to the early 1990s.  I was most fortunate to get to know Lord King and Lord Marshall who, respectively, as President and CEO of BA turned around the state owned legacy carrier, which had the nickname B….y Awful, to a profitable and customer-focused British brand. Lord Marshall was a key note speaker when I brought the international corporate identity group symposium to Brunel University in the late 1990s.  It was striking how British Airways began to celebrate its heritage in its corporate positioning and corporate communications after the publication of the lead California Management Review article. To me, the link and the impact of our research are clear.

Professor Balmer’s article “Aligning identity and strategy: Corporate branding at British Airways in the late 20th century” (California Management Review, 51(3), 6 – 23, 2009) explains the utility of adopting an identity-based view of the corporation, which underpins a diagnostic tool of identity management outlined in this article. Using British Airways as an extensive case history, it examines and analyses how British Airways’ senior executives have intuitively adopted an identity-based perspective as part of the strategic management of the carrier. The analysis is corroborated by insights from the former CEO of British Airways, Lord Marshall, as well as his predecessor, Lord King. The overriding message is that calibrating the multiple identities of the corporation is a critical dimension of strategic management.

Accounting Symposium 2014 in BBS examines corporate governance

The 4th Brunel Accounting Symposium was recently held in Brunel Business School. Organised by the Accounting and Auditing Research Centre (AARC), this year’s event was focused on corporate governance and promoted discussion on contemporary issues in accounting bringing together policy makers, accountants, academics and students of the MSc in Accounting and Business Management and the PhD programme.

BBS Accounting Symposium 2014

BBS Accounting Symposium 2014

A total of 65 delegates from the USA, UK and Europe attended. The keynote speakers were:

  • Catherine Woods, Corporate Governance Policy Advisor, FRC, Remuneration, risk management and revisions to the UK Corporate governance Code
  • Paul Moxey, Head of Corporate Governance and Risk Management, ACCA, Creating value for governance
  • Jo Iwasaki, Head of Corporate Governance, ICAEW, New challenges in corporate governance
  • Prof Mark Clatworthy, University of Bristol, The timeliness of private company financial reporting
  • Prof Christopher Napier, Royal Holloway, University of London, Lords on the board: Titled directors now and in the past

Professor Robin Jarvis led the morning and afternoon panel discussions with Brian Coyle, author of the ICSA Corporate Governance Handbook, and Professor David Cairns, University of Edinburgh. This encouraged lively debates with delegates in the audience and contributed to a stimulating and interesting symposium for all.

Dr Jill Collis

Dr Jill Collis

Dr Jill Collis, the Director of the Accounting and Auditing Research Centre (AARC), commented:

“It’s always a pleasure to organise this event! It provides an excellent opportunity for continuing professional development and fosters relationships with the accountancy profession, regulators and standard setters. It was the first year we included students of the MSc in Accounting and Business Management programme and, given their positive feedback, we will continue to do this next year to ensure our most current research is shared with the entire accounting community in Brunel, which our students are also an important part of.”

BBS marketing faculty lead 4th International Symposium on Corporate Heritage

Prominent corporate heritage scholars from North America, New Zealand, France, Finland, Sweden and Great Britain attended the 4th International Symposium on Corporate Heritage in Helsinki in June. The symposium is the fourth to be organised by Professor John MT Balmer from Brunel Business School who established the event at Brunel University in 2011.

Symposium Participants

Hosted by Dr Anne Rindell and colleagues at the Department of Marketing, Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland the symposium reflected the growing scholarly interest in this upcoming area of research which Brunel University has built an international reputation for.

Marketing faculty, members of the Centre for Research in Marketing (CREAM) in Brunel Business School presented papers at the event and included: Dr Michael Heller, Dr Weifeng Chen, Dr Christina Scandelius and Professor John Balmer.

Prof BalmerIn Professor Balmer’s keynote address, and drawing on his recent corporate heritage article in corporate communications, he detailed the historiography of corporate heritage including the co-creation of the concept with Professor Greyser of Harvard and Professor Urde of Lund University Sweden. Professor Balmer also detailed his theory of relative invariance as it applies to corporate heritage which emphasises that corporate heritage institutions embrace both continuity and change.

Other Brunel Business School presentations at the symposium included that by Dr Weifeng Chen and Professor Balmer which detailed initial insights regarding their work on international corporate heritage brands in relation to Dulwich College’s (the famous London public school) establishment of schools in China, Singapore and South Korea. Their research shows how corporate heritage can be a strategic asset in terms of internationalisation and also illustrated the significance of Professor Balmer’s notion of sensory corporate heritage and corporate heritage design in particular.

Dr Christina Scandelius’s presentation detailed how CSR orientated organisations can draw on their heritage, Dr Heller detailed the significance of London’s Museum of Brands and explained how narratives of the past can be contested and a former PhD student, Dr Berghausen also presented a paper alongside Professor Balmer on “repertoires of the past” which detailed the importance of concepts relating to the past including heritage.