Bridging the rigour-relevance gap in enterprise research

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Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies

Dr Isla Kapasi is an early career researcher in the field of entrepreneurship.

Photograph of the event

Businesses of every size have been encouraged by the Government and the Federation of Small Businesses, amongst others, to take on a key role in the economic recovery and development of many Western economies, including the UK, especially since the recession of 2007/8. However, research suggests that businesses and policy makers have limited engagement with contemporary business and entrepreneurship research – research that could provide valuable insights into how to develop and strengthen the economy.

Adding to the problem, research within the entrepreneurship and business research community may often prioritise research rigour over relevance to the business and policy communities. In other words, the focus is on the thoroughness of the research rather than how businesses can apply the findings. The Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies (CEES) at Leeds University Business School wants to challenge the current state of play and bridge this gap. 

On Wednesday 13 September, in partnership with the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) and the Society for the Advancement of Management Studies, CEES will be hosting a one day event in Leeds at The Studio on Whitehall Road which will examine aspects of the rigour-relevance gap in entrepreneurship and enterprise research. 

The purpose of the event is to bring together academics (especially those in the early stages of their career), policy makers, and professionals from small businesses to discuss the 'gap' between the research we conduct as academics and how this informs and reaches the (small) business community and policy makers. The event is inspired by the current conversation regarding the value of impact within the academic community and my personal experience of working as a mentor to small businesses. 

The planned outcomes for the day are: 1) to contribute to the development of a set of best practice guidelines for academics to communicate their research in a meaningful way beyond academia, and 2) to develop relationships between academics, policy makers and business owners to stimulate future research that will have valuable impact. 

The free event will include a panel discussion on different perspectives on the rigour-relevance of academic research, featuring Dr David Higgins (University of Liverpool); Professor Kiran Trehan (University of Birmingham); Philip Salter (Director, The Entrepreneurs Network and Secretary for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Entrepreneurship); Anthony Moody (Deputy Director of Enterprise Analysis, BEIS); Joe Clease (Senior Economist, BEIS); and Jonathan Seaton (Managing Director, Twinkl Ltd.)

In the afternoon there will be interdisciplinary workshops including focus sessions on “what is interesting about entrepreneurship research” and “what is relevant in entrepreneurship research?”

The event will close with a summary of best practice guidelines, an opportunity for questions and answers, and discussion on how to take the findings from the day forward.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect the views of Leeds University business school or the University of Leeds.