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Institutions and Entrepreneurship: Uncovering the distinctiveness of institutions and entrepreneurship in challenging environments


   Business School

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  Dr King Omeihe, Prof Zaheer Khan  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The purpose of this project is to stimulate and advance research at the cutting edge of our knowledge regarding the linkage between institutions and entrepreneurship. Institutions and entrepreneurship tend to have a bidirectional relationship. The literature on institutions (North, 1990; DiMaggio and Powell, 1991; Hodgson, 2006; Bruton et al., 2010) and entrepreneurship (Aidis et al., 2008; Battilana et al., 2009; Welter and Smallbone, 2011) assumes that institutional environments influence the nature and extent of entrepreneurship as well as the way entrepreneurs behave. While these studies demonstrate the interplay, analysing institutions and the role they play in governing entrepreneurial action remains a central problem.

“Institutions are the rules of the game in a society or, more formally, the humanly devised constraints that shape human interaction” (North, 1990; p.3). This statement somewhat stresses that institutions structure incentives in human exchange, whether social or economic. Institutions offer considerable scope for entrepreneurial growth because they shape the actions of key economic actors in society (Acemoglu et al., 2004). For this reason, entrepreneurs depend on institutions as they serve to provide legitimate course of action.

Yet, there is no certainty that entrepreneurs will have recourse to the same set of institutions, as explanations by reference to institutional effects are problematic without an understanding of the heterogeneity of entrepreneurial responses to institutional conditions. There is a growing recognition that scholarly work on institutions have largely been concerned with the distinctive institutional conditions of entrepreneurship in mature market economies and may have lost sight of the heterogeneity of entrepreneurial responses across other institutional contexts (Amoako and Matlay, 2015; Omeihe, 2019).

Recent evidence reveals also that entrepreneurial activity in mature market economies has witnessed a decline over the last decade (Porter, 2018; Naude, 2019). In contrast, there appears to be a growing recognition that entrepreneurial activity is on the increase across developing economies (Amoako, 2019; Omeihe and Omeihe, 2021). Since entrepreneurship is context dependent, the changing rate of entrepreneurial activity across contexts demands an original study to help uncover the impact of contextual-level factors, of which institutions appear to be the most critical.

In attempting to address these issues, the proposed project will aim to advance knowledge regarding the linkage between entrepreneurship and institutions within contexts characterised with undeveloped formal institutions. The proposed project will focus on entrepreneurship and institutions through the lens of a developing economy to emphasise how this relationship differs from what we currently know.

Potential avenues of inquiry may include: (i) how institutions influence entrepreneurial activities (ii) the impact of institutions on internationalisation and new venture creation (iii) institutionalist approaches to understanding entrepreneurial action (iv) the impact of formal institutional voids and (v) emerging economies: institutions and entrepreneurial networks. Additionally, how entrepreneurs potentially serve as a bridge between formal and informal institutions is of special interest as there are unanswered questions about this bridge in entrepreneurship literature.

This study will be supervised by Dr King Omeihe and Professor Zaheer Khan.

To be considered for the project, the candidate must meet the standard entry requirements for the PGR programme. This includes having a degree or other qualification considered to be the equivalent to a first- or upper second-class Honours degree of a British University or a postgraduate Master's degree in Business or a related area of Social Science. Further information on the application process can be accessed via the link below: How To Apply | Study Here | The University of Aberdeen (abdn.ac.uk)

Prospective candidates are required to develop the project idea outline above into a PhD proposal of not more than 1500 words. The proposal should include relevant up to date literature sources and provide some indication of an appropriate research methodology that could be applied to the project.

Applications will be assessed on the merits of academic performance, quality of research proposal and the potential to contribute to one of the research strengths of the Africa-Asia Centre of Sustainability Research at the University of Aberdeen

Applicants are welcome to share their interests with prior to formally applying. You can view his profile here


Funding Notes

This PhD project has no funding attached and is therefore available to students (UK/International) who are able to seek their own funding or sponsorship. Supervisors will not be able to respond to requests to source funding.
To submit an application please visit View Website
-Apply for 'PhD in Management Studies'
-State the name of the lead supervisor on your application
-State the name of the project
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