June 21, 2018
On June 19, the Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises hosted its inaugural Entrepreneurship Research Day where students, professors and industry experts discussed what’s in store for the future of entrepreneurship research.
“This day is designed to stimulate and support high quality research on the management issues faced by high growth tech firms,” says Lazaridis Institute Research Director and event moderator, Nicole Coviello. “Our focus this year is on research in entrepreneurship and managing innovation which is why we’re hosting a panel of the world’s leading entrepreneurship scholars.”
The panel was a catalyst for attracting a large audience of academic and grad students and was made up of three scholars, Marc Gruber from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Holger Patzelt from the Technical University of Munich and Dean Shepherd from the University of Notre Dame.
Each panellist was asked to provide their assessment of where they see entrepreneurship scholarship going in the near future and each researcher brought their own approach to bear when answering the questions.
“For me, I’m most interested in the individual people behind entrepreneurship,” says Patzelt. “We have an opportunity with the recent advent of maker spaces and incubators to study the individuals in a social context. I think studying how people work together in these low barrier environments will yield interesting results for this field of study.”
The panel discussion quickly evolved into an examination of how entrepreneurship scholars can apply theories from other disciplines as a way to move the profession forward.
“We still see that much of the field is defined by economic terms of success,” says Gruber. “But if we look at entrepreneurship through other lenses such as identity theory, we can capture the value of other types of activities that economics misses.”
Gruber explains that 30-40% of start-up companies tend to want to better society in some way and assessing their actions based solely on economic and financial measurements does those companies a disservice.
“We are currently experiencing six or seven technology waves at the same time and this is unprecedented in our world,” says Gruber. “This is creating a huge amount of labour displacement which leads to a condition of necessity entrepreneurship where people seek business opportunities not out of passion but requirement.”
Perhaps the most difficult paradigm left to change in entrepreneurship is that of success versus failure. Dean Shepherd says that “by failing more frequently we learn more efficiently and therefore failure is not the opposite of success but rather a pathway to it.”
Shepherd adds that while these paradigm shifts are occurring and new theories are being applied to entrepreneurship, "we must be sure we're not just engaging in theory borrowing but rather engaging in theory bricolage to bring together the best parts of theoretical models to help explain phenomena. Scholars are like entrepreneurs in a way because we are always looking for the next opportunity to produce useful things."
The inaugural Entrepreneurship Research Day continued after the panel discussion with a competitive poster session, networking time and poster prize presentation.
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