Creating Entrepreneurial Space: Talking Through Multi-Voices, Reflections on Emerging Debates: Volume 9B

Cover of Creating Entrepreneurial Space: Talking Through Multi-Voices, Reflections on Emerging Debates

Table of contents

(14 chapters)

This chapter discusses the use of an extended stage model for the evaluation of the adoption of e-business in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Empirical studies of e-business adoption are rare in Middle Eastern and developing countries and the chapter provides valuable insight into this region, by presenting an account of the use of the extended stage model to explore the level of e-business adoption among Yemeni SMEs.

In making this examination, the challenges and opportunities that accompany e-business adoption are revealed. The internal drivers and barriers, such as finance and skills, are recognised along with the external factors that include infrastructure and legislation. It also provides valuable insight into the macro-level sociopolitical determinants of e-business adoption that have not previously been appreciated; the study was undertaken during the Yemen Civil War in 2016.

Current adoption models imply that organisations adopt technologies in a linear fashion, gradually increasing complexity and capability. This study makes an important contribution by recognising that there are multiple points at which SMEs may ‘enter’ the technology-adoption ladder.


Entrepreneurs make a significant contribution to the health of any economy and higher education is regarded as pivotal in efforts to grow entrepreneurial talent. Entrepreneurship education has grown rapidly; yet, there is still controversy over the best way to educate and assess students. This chapter presents a study gathering a consensus of entrepreneur opinion on the concepts critical to thinking as an entrepreneur, in order to inform entrepreneurship curriculum development. There is a general lack of entrepreneurship education research that integrates the external stakeholder perspective in this way.

Using a Delphi-style method with twelve entrepreneurs, five candidate entrepreneurship threshold concepts are identified. Threshold concepts have a powerfully transformative effect on the learner, and important integrative qualities, allowing the learner to make the sense of previously isolated pockets of knowledge. A ‘new world-view’ or episteme can be constructed – a kind of disciplinary thinking, peculiar in this case, to entrepreneurs.

This chapter contributes to the call for more research grounded discussion on the quality and effectiveness of entrepreneurship education initiatives. Designing curricula around the threshold concepts in entrepreneurship will enable educators to offer particular support in areas where students are likely to get ‘stuck’ and will facilitate constructive alignment with assessment.


Adopting a dual processing cognitive perspective, this study explores the decision-making processes past the start-up stage that small entrepreneurial businesses employ to grow. The author examines how entrepreneurs evaluate and make decisions on growth opportunities in their business environment. The author uses cognitive style as a theoretical lens to capture differences in information processing, combining interviews and psychometric questionnaires to analyse cognitive styles. The longitudinal mixed methods approach illustrates the richness of the entrepreneur’s decision-making process, which the author tracks over a two-year period. The author determines how intuitive and analytical cognitive styles are used by entrepreneurs and the contribution these styles make to decision-making. The findings show that the two cognitive styles are versatile as entrepreneurs adjust and adapt their cognitive style over time, in keeping with the situational factors of their business environment. The author also finds marked differences between novice and mature entrepreneurs and that experienced entrepreneurs exhibited greater levels of cognitive versatility, which was directly linked to their prior experience. The study has significant implications for future research, which should consider the question how an entrepreneur’s cognitive style is dependent on the business context and their prior experience.


The need for developing new entrepreneurial ways of thinking and acting has been in the agenda for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the European Union countries. In line with their agenda, the Nordic Council of Ministers has been preoccupied with the development of entrepreneurial mindsets among the adult population. Seeking to meet the urgent need for developing entrepreneurial thinking, the Nordic Network for Adult Learning, together with the Nordic Council of Ministers, has elaborated and tested a Scandinavian model for stimulating entrepreneurial mindsets through the transformative learning circles. Based on the study of the TLC pilot project, this chapter explores the process of facilitation of entrepreneurial learning. The literature on entrepreneurial learning and education emphasises on the importance of facilitation; however, this issue is yet to be addressed in-depth. This chapter seeks to fill in this gap and contribute to our understanding of the role that facilitators play in the entrepreneurial and transformative learning processes. Drawing on the social constructionist approach to learning, this chapter discusses how facilitators and learners (entrepreneurs) become co-creators of knowledge and learning experiences.


This chapter examines the interactions of formal and informal forms of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) business support, characterised as interactions within an ‘enterprise industry’. An analysis of the interactions revealed in the existing literature for different forms of business support develops a new conceptual framework for understanding those varied forms of external influence targeted at SMEs that constitute and extend a ‘patchwork quilt’ of provision. This chapter focusses on how different forms of support and advice interact, the centrality of state influence and how such interactions can be considered part of a firm’s regulatory context. This conceptualisation allows the consideration of both business support and state regulations to move beyond conceptions of positive or negative impacts on factors such as firm growth. Instead, it establishes a conceptual lens for considering how the different forms of external influence can shape the practices and attitudes of SMEs and their owner-managers. Policy makers and organisations within the enterprise industry seeking to develop effective forms of support or regulation should not consider such activities in isolation or in simple, decontextualised positive or negative terms.

Introduction – General Principles

The chapter examines the role of volunteer business mentoring in potentially improving financing and financial management in under-served (i.e. schemes aim to assist deprived neighbourhoods and youth entrepreneurs) youth enterprises.

Youth entrepreneurship (commonly defined as entrepreneurs aged up to 35 years) is regarded by the OECD as under-represented, within entrepreneurship as a general social phenomenon, and young entrepreneurs as disadvantaged through being under-served. Indeed, young people with latent potential for entrepreneurship have been defined as a component of ‘Missing Entrepreneurs’ (OECD, 2013). This under-representation of nascent entrepreneurs within young people under 35 is partly theoretical. While examining entrepreneurship as a social phenomenon and taking a resource-based approach (Barney, 1991), young people are perceived at a particular disadvantage compared with older members of society. That is, however creative, they lack the experience and network resources of older members.

Theoretically, from a demand-side perspective, young people may have aspirations and the required skills for start-up entrepreneurship, but are disadvantaged from a supply-side perspective since financial institutions, such as the commercial banks, private equity investors and other suppliers of financial debt and equity, will see greater risk combined with a lack of track record and credibility (pertaining to information asymmetries and associated agency and signalling problems: Carpenter & Petersen, 2002; Hsu, 2004; Hughes, 2009; Mueller, Westhead, & Wright, 2014). This means that aspiring nascent youth entrepreneurs face greater challenges in obtaining mainstream and alternative sources of finance. Practically, unless such young entrepreneurs can call upon deep pockets of the ‘bank of Mum and Dad’ or family and friends, we can expect them to resort to pragmatic methods of stretching their resources, such as financial bootstrapping and bricolage (Mac an Bhaird, 2010; Mac an Bhaird & Lucey, 2015). Although these theoretical and practical issues have long existed for youth entrepreneurship, they have only been exacerbated in the post-2007 Global financial Crisis (GFC) financial and economic environment, despite the growth of alternative sources such as equity and debt sources of crowdfunding.

Prior Work – Unlocking Potential

There has been an evidence for some time that young people have a higher desire to enter entrepreneurship and self-employment as a career choice, in preference to other forms of employment (Greene, 2005). Younger people are also more positive about entrepreneurial opportunities. For example, a Youth Business International, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (YBI/GEM) (2013) report indicated that in the European Union (EU), ‘younger youth’ were more positive in their attitudes to good business opportunities and in seeing good opportunities than older people. Theoretically, the issues of low experience and credibility can be mitigated by the role of advisors, consultants and/or volunteer business mentors. In corporations and large organisations, mentors are known to be valuable for early career staff (Clutterbuck, 2004; Haddock-Millar, 2017). By extension with young entrepreneurs, business mentors raise credibility, develop personal and professional competence, business potential and entrepreneurial learning. From a supply-side perspective, this reduces risk for financial institutions, potentially increasing the likelihood of receiving external finance and improving the likely returns and business outcomes of such financing.

Methodological Approach

In examining the role of business mentoring in youth entrepreneurship finance, the chapter poses three research-related questions (RQs):

To what extent is the youth voluntary business mentoring (VBM) associated with access to external finance?

Where access to external finance takes place, does the VBM improve the outcomes of the businesses?

To what extent do VBMs make a difference to the performance of businesses receiving financial assistance?

The chapter draws on primary evidence from an online Qualtrics survey of 491 (largely) youth entrepreneur mentees drawn from eight countries in the YBI network. These were selected for their contrasting high (Sweden and Spain), middle (India, Argentina, Chile, Russia and Poland) and lower (Uganda) income economies, global coverage of four continents and operation of established entrepreneurship mentoring schemes. The study provides collective quantitative data on the current relationship between mentoring and the access and impact of external finance. It surveyed current or recently completed mentees during Autumn 2016 – the typical mentoring cycle being 12 months. Additionally, the chapter draws on further qualitative insight evidence from face-to-face interviews, with current mentor-mentee case study pairings from the eight countries.

Key Findings

In summary, the profile of surveyed mentees demonstrated even gender distribution, with three-fifths currently in mentoring relationships. At the time of commencing mentoring, nearly four-fifths were aged under 35, half being self-employed, one quarter employed, with the remainder equally distributed between education and unemployment. At commencement of mentoring, mentee businesses were typically in early stages, either pre-start (37%) or just started trading (34%), the main sectors represented being business services (16%), education and training (16%), retail and wholesale (12%) and creative industries (8%), with the median level of own business management —one to two years.

For one-third of mentees, mentoring was compulsory, due largely to receiving enterprise finance support, whilst for the remainder, more than a quarter stated that access to business finance assistance was either considerably or most important in their choice to go on the programme.

In terms of business performance, businesses receiving external finance (loans or grants through the programme) or mentoring for business finance performed significantly better than the rest of the sample: amongst those trading 47% increased sales turnover, compared to 32% unassisted (<0.05 level); 70% increased employment, compared to 42% (<0.05); 58% directly attributed improved performance to mentoring, compared to 46% (<0.1).

Contribution and Implications

The chapter provides both statistical and qualitative evidences supporting the premise that youth business mentoring can both improve access to external finance and lead to improved business performance. This provides useful guidance to youth business support, given that in some of the countries studied, external financing in the form of grants and soft micro loans for youth entrepreneurs are not available.


The Technium initiative started in 2001 with an initial Business and Innovation Centre established in the Swansea docklands area. Early success of this first Technium building led to the concept being rapidly proliferated into a pan-Wales network of primarily sector-focussed centres. Although the Welsh Government withdrew its support for the Technium network initiative in 2010, the individual centres continued under a range of ownerships and the historic initiative of continued interest, particularly with respect to regional policy.

A vibrant policy and practice debate subsequently emerged together with strident media comment. Lack of coherence between Technium Centres and weaknesses in monitoring systems meant this debate has been poorly informed. This case study helps address the evidence deficit within this debate by revisiting the initial Technium Swansea initiative and its subsequent development.

The case study provides an insight into what can realistically be expected of such initiatives in the short, medium and long terms, with realistic time-horizons for ‘success’ and the role of learning for knowledge-based development in similar initiatives and regions.


Entrepreneurship as a socially engaged and responsible movement is increasingly conceptualised as creating multiple sources of value: social, environmental, technological, cultural as well as financial, all contributing to wider economic performance. There is a rapid growth in the availability and expectation of ‘Open’ tools and resources, including innovation; data; research access; source code; educational and learning materials; and government. There is an increasing interest in their potential for value creation, requiring research attention and clarity of what ‘Open’ means in this context.

This chapter explores the following three dimensions of the ‘Open Space’ of freely available resources for entrepreneurship:

  • (1)

    What is ‘Open’ in the context of entrepreneurship?

  • (2)

    Why is Open Entrepreneurship (OE) important for conceptualisation, education and practice?

  • (3)

    Can OE provide significant new opportunities for innovation, value creation and learning, and if so, how can these be realised?

What is ‘Open’ in the context of entrepreneurship?

Why is Open Entrepreneurship (OE) important for conceptualisation, education and practice?

Can OE provide significant new opportunities for innovation, value creation and learning, and if so, how can these be realised?

The chapter defines ‘OE’ as a unifying approach for value creation through a conceptual model combining ‘Open’ tools and resources. Open resources for digital and data-led entrepreneurship offer conditions for new, pervasive and distributed forms of value-creating entrepreneurial activity. These can create learning environments with rich access to data and resources, innovative connections and opportunities for co-creating value in multiple forms. This learning-centred approach builds on the concept of entrepreneurship as an educational philosophy of value creation for others. Without this, there are risks that entrepreneurial education, and the capabilities of micro-business owners and managers, may lag the development of an Open digital economy, rather than creating new forms of OE.


Teamwork has become increasingly prevalent both in undertaking research projects and in preparing papers for publication. While there are some reflections on the process of teamworking in the organisational studies literature, there is little published work in the area of entrepreneurship. Most existing studies distinguish between problems associated with task-based conflict and relationship-based conflict. In this chapter, the author provides an ethnographic account of a team involved with preparing a proposal and, subsequently, undertaking a small firm research project. The Evolution of Business Knowledge (EBK) was a major Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) initiative which funded 13 distinct projects. During the nine-month period of preparing and refining the research proposal, the team worked together extremely effectively. There were periods of intense knowledge sharing, which enabled the team to develop an impressive and successful bid to study the ‘EBK in 90 small firms’. A major dispute between team members, during the early stages of the fieldwork, led to a period of both task-based and relationship-based conflicts, which threatened to undermine the project. As a result of my first-hand experiences with the EBK project, the author suggests that accounts such as this will help those who find themselves operating in dysfunctional teams make sense of the underlying tensions associated with ‘academic knowledge creation’.

Cover of Creating Entrepreneurial Space: Talking Through Multi-Voices, Reflections on Emerging Debates
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Contemporary Issues in Entrepreneurship Research
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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