I am happy that a couple of my papers were accepted for the paper development workshop (PDW) at this futuristic event. It was also special as the workshop was hosted at The University of Bologna which is the Western World’s oldest University, running continuously since 1088, just a wee bit shy of its 1000th birthday! (Yes, you saw it right, thousandth b’day)
The workshop assembled a small group of established and early-career scholars! The stellar line-up of senior scholars represented the editorial boards of some of the best journals in management (e.g. AMJ, Org Science, SMJ, ETP, SEJ) and entrepreneurship (at least 10 FT50 journals). It was such an amazing experience walking and talking with the stars in management and entrepreneurship research. It was an equally amazing opportunity to make friends with peers across several topics within business and management.
The inspiring setting, the historic ‘Villa Guastavillani’ – a wonderful location on a hill in Bologna which also hosts the Bologna Business School, just raised our intellectual aspirations. I received high quality feedback (and so did every early-career scholar) on my papers from Johan Wiklund (Editor-in-Chief, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice), Frederic Delmar (Associate Editor, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal) and Alfredo De Massis (Associate Editor, Family Business Review). I am confident that this will help me prepare my paper for potential submission to a top ranked journal in management or entrepreneurship. The senior scholars were candid yet friendly. The constructive and developmental nature of the feedback received by me and my peers will help us improve as scholars apart from taking our specific papers forward.
In addition to the paper feedback sessions, the senior scholars also engaged in debates around issues concerning people within academia – open access publishing and where to publish. The lively sessions brought out many lighter moments while exposing the complexity of knowledge creation. We had adequate time and access to some of the best scholars in the world to answer our naive questions.
This book opened my eyes to the truth about shame and vulnerability. Most of us go through them in life, as Brene Brown says, unconsciously. Being non-cognizant of these emotions gives a temporary relief, but bothers us in the longer term. Therefore it is important to acknowledge them and become mature enough to handle them.
A student of mine told me that something stopped her from speaking out and taking action. She told me that she was worried that people may think of her as silly or stupid and this stopped her. But eventually when she heard someone else being appreciated for an idea that was similar to hers’, she would feel bad. I’m not sure why I asked her to read this book. She did! Nothing happened. I told her to read it again. Nothing happened! I told her to keep at it. About a month back the same girl called back to share that recently she boldly presented her ideas in a certain forum and was pleasantly surprised to see people appreciate her ideas. It was the first time, but the positive response gave her confidence to do it over and over again. In just over a few months she has become confident and changed as a person. I can see the change in this student of mine – she is beaming with confidence! She is also much happier! Isn’t she daring greatly?
While I do not want to tell you how Prof Brown deals with overcoming shame and vulnerability, I wish to share the one section of the book that I particularly loved reading – the “Ten Guideposts to Wholehearted Living”. The most interesting thing about this list is that, the way to achieve a happy life is by “letting go” as many things as we can in life! Surprised!! I was, too! How can you gain happiness by letting go? It gave me hope! I knew I was onto a very different kind of book. I also was tempted to drop this book and pick her earlier book (The gift of imperfections) that espoused the ten guideposts to wholehearted living – but I resisted.
The reason I bought this book was due to my research interests. I wanted to explore shame and vulnerability among entrepreneurs and see if it influences their ability to identify/discover/develop opportunities. There are some interesting academic papers on this topic. But the reason I read it, like the way college kids read novels, is because of the message and how it is presented. Amazing is the only word to describe the book. If you don’t read this book, you are truly missing an important element of life.
Last week I offered my first full PhD course to doctoral students of Nord University. It was a 7.5 credit course on Qualitative Research Methods. I have been working on this course for about six months now. I co-taught this course with two Professors – Prof Helle Neergaard of Aarhus University and Prof Einar Rasmussen of Nord University. All three of us are qualitative researchers with papers published in top journals. Additionally, Helle Neergaard is a popular qualitative methods specialist with two published handbooks – one on methods and the second on techniques and analysis. The former inspired my taking to qualitative research during my PhD days.
Since the course was aimed at doctoral students in management and entrepreneurship, we sifted through the literature to find method articles and exemplars for the reading list. The final reading list included 13 articles – five method articles and eight exemplar articles. The course primarily focused on grounded theory, case studies (single and multiple), data analysis approaches (e.g. coding) and methodologies like the Gioia approach. The exemplar papers showcased how these methods and techniques were successfully used by scholars.
The course required students to submit a pre-course assignment of their dissertation or a paper project. The students had diverse research interests ranging from arts entrepreneurship education to continuous auditing implementation. It was a pleasure to see their motivations in exploring their respective phenomena of interest. We designed the course to build on student papers. The sessions included lectures, group discussions around exemplar articles and hands-on group work on their individual papers.
We went out for a nice social on one of the days. Ohma, a wonderful Asian/Sushi restaurant in Bodo, provided a nice ambiance to socialize and make new friends. We completed the course on a high note with the students capturing their learning and feedback. The students will now work on their post-course assignment and hopefully have working drafts of their papers soon.
It was a great experience teaching a PhD course. While distinctly different from graduate/post-graduate courses, it provided a great opportunity to reflect more deeply on research methods, especially qualitative. The questions from budding scholars helped refine my existing knowledge and triggered the search for new knowledge too. I came away as a more reflective qualitative scholar after teaching this course. I now look forward to teach my next PhD course. This is a different kind of fun.
It was a pleasure participating in the Microsoft for Startups event on 03rd April 2019 at Oslo. Being my first visit to Oslo, I was off early. I got on to the ‘Flytoget’. An enjoyable ride brought me on time to the lovely little station of Lysaker. Though I was a little ahead of time, the place was buzzing with activity – typical of a startup event.
The day began with a nice breakfast and lovely quick introductions. I met many startup founders excitedly sharing their ideas. Some were curious as to why I was there! My response was “I study what you guys do, so I will be where you guys are”.
The pre-lunch presentations were predominantly “Microsoft” and its programs. It was amazing to see the transformation that Satya Nadella has managed to achieve in a short time. The whole group echoed one message “it is our job to enable your success”. The executives were candid that there was a give-and-take relationship in this engagement. Startups appreciated the candidness.
Since I had studied earlier versions of the Microsoft for Startups program, it was heartening to see how the program has expanded. The program now serves startups at a variety of stages – ideation to scale-up. The presentations of Sensee’s scaling journey was truly reflective of entrepreneurship. Sensee is Norwegian startup which participated in the Microsoft for Startups program at London and is now beginning to see results.
The idea of one-on-one sessions was interesting. While startups spoke to executives and investors, I spoke with the Microsoft for Startups executives and learned how they are expanding their reach across the entire Western Europe. As a scholar interested in corporate startup engagements, it was encouraging.
Overall it was a nice day. I made some new friends. I hope to invite some of the professionals and startup founders to visit us and encourage our students to try living entrepreneurially.
Tucked away in the middle of Norway is a town called “Trondheim”. It is probably the best student town in Norway. The town is home to one of Norway’s most popular University – NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology). Among the many things that take place at this vibrant town of Trondheim, is an event called Technoport. Annually, it brings together people interested in innovation from various walks of life – researchers, technologists, policymakers, politicians, innovators and corporations. Tommy and I represented Nord University Business School (https://www.nord.no/en) at the annual Technoport 2019 conference.This was my first visit to this wonderful event: https://conference.technoport.no/
The day started with a breakfast discussion on Innovation. Two politicians, a central bank leader and Prof. Mariana Mazzucato (https://marianamazzucato.com/) discussed numerous views on the future of innovation for the world. It was wonderful to see how politicians and policymakers embraced new ideas and explored possibilities for Norway’s future as well as the world. The group set the stage for a wonderful day of deliberations around innovation. Prof Mazzucato’s remarks on the difference between value-creating and value-extracting innovations were insightful. I had recently read her latest book titled “The value of everything” which details this argument in detail. Since I had enjoyed this great book, the deliberations and ideas were doubly interesting.
I was also happy to meet Prof Timo Vuori of Aalto University. I am a fan of his paper in the Administrative Science Quarterly on Nokia. He elaborated on his research regarding the role of emotions in innovation. As a scholar of corporate innovation, it was a real treat meeting him.
The day rounded off for me with a session on a topic close to my heart – Corporate Accelerators. Audun from Techstars Energy Accelerator led a wonderful program with executives from Equinor and Kongsberg. It was great to participate in discussions around a topic I closely research and write about. Our brief interaction after the session was interesting. We hope to contribute to the larger understanding of corporate accelerators through our interactions and potential collaborations. The Techstars Energy Accelerator is open for applications to its 2019 cohort: https://www.techstars.equinor.com/ (Entrepreneurs interested in scaling their startups should check if they are eligible and try getting in. Caution: It is highly competitive and rewarding.)
I left the event making new friends and gaining fresh insights. If the schedule suits, I will definitely be there for the next edition too.
Ali Ferguson is a popular copyeditor. She works with the best entrepreneurship scholars and helps them communicate their ideas succinctly. Ali visited us at Nord University Business School to offer a three-day workshop on writing. She was inspiring, energetic, skilled and knowledgeable. All of us left the workshop feeling inspired and enabled to write more deftly.
During the workshop, Ali spent time explaining the writing process – pre-writing, writing and revising. She highlighted the value of outlining and reverse outlining. Her approach to writing was structured and methodical. Crafting good sentences, paragraphs and sections, though ostensibly simple, are a challenge, and Ali helped us learn tips and tricks to get them right. Her workshop gave enough time for practice on our own papers. She demonstrated how it is easy to find errors in others’ writing than one’s own. Another reason why we need peer review. Ali provided numerous resources that can make us better writers. Her love for editing and the language was visible.
I came away from the workshop with more admiration for Ali and the English language. I thank her for showing me what good writing can achieve and introducing me to interesting new resources. Thank you Ali.
I wholeheartedly recommend Ali for all your English editing needs, even more so, if you are an academic. Ali will be a great resource person for any writing workshop in your departments and/or institutions. Here is the link to her website: https://purpleinkediting.com/
It was fantastic to participate in the Corporate Accelerator Symposium, albeit from afar. The Live telecast of the day long event was amazing! The event was so well put-together that it kept me gripped to my office chair the entire day. You can look at the amazing list of speakers and panelists here: http://corpacceleration.com/
The topic of corporate accelerators is close to my heart. I studied it for my doctoral work. I also had recently published a paper titled “Accelerating strategic fit or venture emergence: Different paths adopted by corporate accelerators” (co-author: Dean A Shepherd) in The Journal of Business Venturing. You can read the paper here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0883902617308376
It was heartening to see Professors Markus Perkmann and Mike Wright of Imperial College, London refer to our paper in their keynote presentations. They set the stage for the day’s deliberations. This was followed by a series of panels comprising early practitioners of corporate accelerators and corporate innovation from leading and large corporations – Airbus, Swisscom, IBM, Bosch, Unilever, Daimler and others. There were also executives from sector specific accelerators, industry driven accelerators and collaborative accelerators. The discussions and the Q&A
sessions provided insights into present practices, where corporate innovation was probably headed and how corporate accelerators are an important constituent of this innovation arsenal for forward looking corporations.
Researchers interested in accelerators, like myself, were provided enough pointers to potential research topics by practitioners. It also provided enough time to reflect on where the next set of research studies should focus. I was excited as I made notes on a range of research questions about corporate accelerators that I would love to explore. The last session presented by Cristobal Garcia-Herrera and Prof Markus Perkmann from Imperial College provided an indication of the immense learning offered during the day.
I experienced the power of networking during the event, though I attended it virtually. I connected to other attendees virtually via Twitter and Linkedin and left the event with more potential collaborations. The day ended on a high note when Cristobal Garcia-Herrera invited me to present at the next edition of the Symposium.
Thank you Imperial College, London for a great experience and a day of learning. I am now eagerly awaiting the next Corporate Accelerator Symposium.