The Abundance

Book Title: The Abundance – Narrative Essays Old and New The Abundance

Author: Annie Dillard (http://www.anniedillard.com/)

Publisher: Harper Collins (https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062432971/the-abundance/)

I love spending time in the Library. If I need some fresh thoughts or want to clear my head, walking to the Library is a natural act. It was a Friday afternoon and I had been working on a paper most of the week. I wanted to clear my head and so I went to the University Library. For a change I saw a small well made book in English on the “New Arrivals” shelf. It was “The Abundance” by Annie Dillard. I quickly recognized Annie Dillard from an earlier book I had read  titled “The Writing Life”.

I spent much of my free time over that weekend reading “The Abundance”. It contained essays from her earlier works. Since I had not read any of her earlier works except The Writing Life, the content was new to me. As stated by Geoff Dyer in his foreword, “Dillard can only be enjoyed by a wide-awake reader.”

The essays from the writing life was a nice reiteration of some great tips for writers such as myself – be careful of what you read; be careful of what you learn, non-conformity may be your only hope, the writer ought to know his/her field, you can shape literature only if you know it, and don’t hoard what seems good for a later time or place — the central message is “give it, give it all, give it now”

Though I enjoyed every essay in the book, I especially soaked in the many pieces excerpted from “Teaching a stone to talk” and “Pilgrim at tinker creek”. They provide enough material for reflection on the truths of life. At times it appears to border on the metaphysical but Dillard does such a good job of keeping you firmly grounded.

I could not connect much with the essays from “Holy the firm” and “From an American childhood”, but I am sure they are due to my limited knowledge of the context. Towards the end of the book the essays from “For the time being” nicely sums up the collection. Two sentences from this section particularly drive home the point and will stay with me for a long time:

“All that is really worthwhile is action”

“If you stay still, earth buries you, ready or not”

Brilliant is the only word that comes to my mind, though it is not a great expression of the wisdom expressed in this book. I do not have to recommend Annie Dillard as an essayist to people who know her, but for those who don’t, this is a great book into the world of her writings.

It was a great way to spend my weekend absorbed in thought over the wisdom received. I can only thank nature for offering me the solitude and the chance to enjoy such great company.

How to write an entrepreneurship (journal) article?

Okay, I am not answering that question. Honestly, I am far from advising you how to do it! I have just about begun to publish in the top entrepreneurship journals!

But what if you can learn it from two of the best scholars in entrepreneurship research – Dean A Shepherd and Johan Wiklund. The two of them have, jointly, distilled their long years of experience with writing academic articles into an article. How can you miss it? Here is the link (and I see that it is free to read for now): https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1042258719845888

If you are even remotely interested in academic research, especially in entrepreneurship, this article is a must read. If you aspire to publish in the top entrepreneurship journals, this is the “how-to” manual. I was lucky to learn this directly from Johan when he was with us last month at Nord University and provided a short seminar on this paper.

Johan Workshop
Photo Courtesy: Einar

 

This is not the first article on how to publish in top entrepreneurship journals (there are even books by the same title) and this certainly will not be the last, but it is highly contextual for entrepreneurship scholars. For me, it is also special as both Johan and Dean are whom I admire, look up to, and now closely learn from.

And as both Johan and Dean will agree, the difficulty is in developing the discipline to practice their suggestions. This is hard work!

Babson’s 39th BCERC and my 3rd

It was great being there at the 39th Babson College Entrepreneurship Research BCERC 19 - 5Conference (BCERC) earlier this month. It was my third time at the BCERC and it was special for two additional reasons: (i) it was my first visit to the Babson College at Wellesley, MA and (ii) it was Babson College’s Centennial year.

I represented Nord University Business School. We were four colleagues at the BCERC 2019. Since we landed into Boston early, we spent our day visiting MIT’s Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and Harvard’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship. It was great knowing both these centers and what they do for promoting entrepreneurship on their campuses. At Harvard Business School we also had BCERC 19 - 4a great lunch and spent time absorbing the intellectual air at the famed Baker Library.

The conference began with the Welcome reception! It felt like an annual reunion of sorts. It felt like being home with so many familiar faces. The socials during the conference gave us enough time to catch up with old friends and make new ones. We rubbed shoulders with the who-is-who in the world of entrepreneurship research. I interacted with Alexander McKelvie, Frederic Delmar, Andrew Corbett, Phillip Kim, Candida Brush among others. It was such a pleasure meeting my 2016 BCERC Doctoral Consortium cohort mates. It was nice to chat about how our careers have shifted and progressed – some assistant professors and a few postdocs.BCERC 19 - 6

All of us presented our papers at the conference. We received feedback on our work. The general learning about scholarship was reiterated and remains valid: work on interesting research questions; be rigorous with methods and reporting; ask those before you for help; get friendly reviews; never submit a first draft to a journal; read exemplars; learn the craft by co-working with seniors. During this year’s conference I noticed: fsQCA was on more papers than I had seen before and more global representation of scholars (including one from India).

BCERC 19 - 1

The Boston weather was conducive for great discussions and long walks. Overall it was a great conference. I now look forward to the next BCERC at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The Future of Conducting and Publishing Research in Entrepreneurship, Innovation Management and Strategy

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Bologna Workshop 2019 Group Photo, Courtesy: Bologna Business School

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)

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My working group, Courtesy: Einar Rasmussen

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.

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Ask the editors session, Courtesy: Einar Rasmussen
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Where it all started, Courtesy: Einar Rasmussen

 

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.

I thank the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Nord University Business School, Society for the Advancement of Management Studies (SAMS) and University of Bologna for hosting such a wonderful workshop. This enabled about twenty early-career scholars like myself to move our research forward. I am sure it provided adequate inspiration and guidance for us to plan and pursue our academic careers.

All of us left the workshop feeling deeply satisfied and sufficiently inspired for raising our scholarly aspirations.

Daring Greatly

Book Title: Daring Greatly

Author: Brene Brown Daring Greatly Book Cover

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.

Teaching a PhD Course

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, PhD Course 2019 Bodowe 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.

Microsoft for Startups in Oslo

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.

I was the only academic in the event. I was there because I research corporate startup engagements and recently published a paper on corporate accelerators in the JBV.

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 1amazing 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.

 

2Since 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 4investors, 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.