July 17, 2020Print | PDF
On June 16, 2020, Jonathan Kerr successfully defended his doctoral dissertation On effectuation and networks: Three essays on their mutuality at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University. The Lazaridis School would like to extend a heartfelt congratulations to Kerr for his achievement.
Kerr holds a BSc from the University of Guelph and an MBA from the Ivey Business School, Western University. He came into the doctoral program with more than 20 years of industry and general management experience in consulting and as a senior manager in the Canadian financial services sector. Kerr is also a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship and Ontario Graduate Scholarship winner.
It was when his son enrolled in the undergraduate double degree program that Kerr was first introduced to the PhD opportunity at Laurier. After conversations with Professor Nicole Coviello, it was clear that he had found the right mix of faculty, collegiality and lively discourse. Kerr jumped at the opportunity to join the doctoral program and when he dropped his son off for orientation week, Kerr surprised him with the news that they would be students together.
In his research, Kerr focuses on the interplay between entrepreneurial decision logics, existing and emerging networks and the creation of market-based opportunities. His research focuses on how entrepreneurs think about opportunities and, in turn, how this influences their approach to developing the networks necessary to support their entrepreneurial endeavours. In turn, it also considers how the networks that emerge affect entrepreneurial thoughts and actions.
Kerr’s research is both conceptual and empirical in nature. His findings note trouble treating entrepreneurial opportunities and networks as holistic phenomena. Instead, he recommends that opportunities are better viewed as amalgams of ideas that must be generated, refined, and acted upon. Kerr’s research also suggests that entrepreneurs do not develop an entrepreneurial network per se. They co-create a series of idea-relevant networks that can differ in terms of their characteristics, durability, and effects on entrepreneurial thoughts and actions. Importantly, contexts and logics employed vary across and temporally within these networks.
Coviello was Kerr’s supervisor and his committee included Lazaridis School professors Sarah Wilner and Scott Ensign. The external examiner was Stuart Read of Willamette University, with the examination chaired by Renée MacPhee, associate professor in Laurier’s Faculty of Science.
“Working with Jon has been a career highlight for me,” said Coviello. “He came to our PhD program with a wealth of industry and university teaching experience. He was also as old as me! For some, that can make it a challenge to become a student again. But Jon was open-minded, a deep thinker, and really engaged with learning. His first two publications are outstanding and I can not wait to see what comes next.”
Kerr is currently teaching entrepreneurship and business strategy at York University where he holds a tenure stream position. In reflecting upon the doctoral program Kerr suggests: “there are several factors that have to come together in order to complete a PhD. When I started the program there were five of us, but only three of us finished. We were sometimes referred to as the three musketeers and our support for each other was unwavering. A PhD may be an individual effort, but you cannot succeed without the help of others. I was also lucky to have the support of my family and friends and to have a great supervisor and committee. In fact, there is not one person that I encountered at Laurier who did not help nudge me a little closer to the finish line.”
Congratulations to Jonathan Kerr.