Potential PhD students are warmly encouraged to apply for this highly prestigious three year studentship funded by the ESRC’s Scottish Graduate School of Social Science and co-funded by the Scottish Government. This studentship will enable the candidate to work closely with the Scottish Government and to be part of an exciting research project with the potential to influence future government policy. Plus, owing to the support of the Regional Studies Association the student will be able to participate in early career networks and attend suitable seminars and conferences.
Much of the literature in small business research assumes that creating more start-ups and small firms is a good thing that ultimately generates growth. This assumption is now increasingly coming under criticism by academics who view policy support aimed at increasing new entrants as flawed (Shane, 2009; Nightingale and Coad, 2014). For a number of reasons, many promising young and small early stage firms do not go on to fulfil their potential.
There are potentially a wide range of factors which may cause this situation such as lack of adequate entrepreneurial human capital, poor market access, weak customer orientation and insufficient funding. However, another key factor which may contribute to this situation is a lack of ‘entrepreneurial ambition’. A lack of entrepreneurial ambition may stem from a lack of suitable role models. It may also arise from a lack of ‘serial entrepreneurs’ or ‘blockbuster entrepreneurs’ who have had prior experience of growing a successful enterprise. Local cultural and institutional factors may also play a role. It manifests itself in a number of different guises such as a desire to offer high levels of equity to risk capital investors, a dependence on assistance from the public sector, a reluctance to seek growth and expansion capital, low levels of stock market listings and a proclivity to seek an early trade sale.
Another key factor mediating the processes of entrepreneurial ambition are various cultural and institutional dimensions which often play a crucial part in shaping the entrepreneurial process. Therefore, incorporating a comparative dimension into researching factors that influence entrepreneurial ambition is crucial in order to identify and contextualise these geographical distinctions. While mid-sized businesses are thought to be a powerful driver of the UK’s economy other economies have become much more effective at producing these larger growth-oriented SMEs. In Germany these firms play a powerful role in their economy and are found across a wide array of industrial sectors. Indeed, owing to the success of the German Mittelstand many governments, including the Scottish Government, are now wishing to better understand in order to help their own industrial and enterprise policies.
The precise methodology for the research will be decided by the student in close consultation with the Scottish Government and supervisors. The choice of Germany as a comparative area to examine seems logical given the strength of the ‘Mittelstand’. The exact region(s) to compare with Scotland will be decided by the student again in consultation with the sponsor and supervisors. It is envisaged, that the research will require a mixed methods approach, incorporating both quantitative methods and qualitative methods. The main sources of quantitative data may include datasets such as the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) and the EU’s Eurobarometer survey. Other sources of data and proxies for entrepreneurial ambition (e.g. funding, levels of SME internationalisation etc.) will also be explored to examine their relevance. Interviews will also be a key element of the research project.
For a preliminary informal discussion, students are strongly encouraged to contact Dr Ross Brown on 07947 190175 or [Email Address Removed]
The studentship is a ESRC collaborative award between the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science and the Socttish Government.