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PhD Research Opportunities at One of Europe’s Leading Centres for Entrepreneurship

Cranfield University - Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Cranfield
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Sponsored by the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship, these studentships will provide a bursary of up to £17,668 per year (tax free) plus fees* for three years.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 3rd January 2024
Closes: 6th March 2024
Reference: SOM00019

The Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship are delighted to be offering two new fully funded PhD studentships. Applicants are invited to submit a proposal addressing one of four themes:

  • Computational Literature Reviews in Entrepreneurship
  • Inclusive Entrepreneurial Ecosystems
  • International Entrepreneurship: a critical analysis of UK SMEs’ experience of entering the Chinese market
  • Entrepreneurs’ Well-Being, Mental Health, Coping Mechanisms and Resilience

Computational Literature Reviews in Entrepreneurship

Computational approaches have long been used to support the processes of reviewing the academic literature. Tools, from relatively simple reference management software to complex qualitative and quantitative analysis packages grow more sophisticated and diverse with each passing year, a growth that shows no sign in slowing. Artificially intelligent tools such as ChatGPT, Bard, Pi and others, whose social, economic and cultural impact is anticipated to be transformative, are the latest products to enter this arena. Taking the domain of entrepreneurship as its field of study, this fully funded PhD studentship project aims to investigate the application and use of artificially intelligent tools in the practice of literature reviewing. The studentship will directly address important contemporary questions about knowledge production, transparency and ethics in the context of scholarly research as well as develop practical guidance for scholars in the practice of literature reviewing.

We envisage that the findings from this research will be submitted/published in leading management journals (Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Management, Organizational Research Methods, Journal of Business Venturing, International Journal of Management Reviews), and also have wider relevance in the general management literature. The findings will provide practical tools and guidance for scholars across the management discipline and beyond. Findings will also become an important part of Cranfield’s training for future researchers.

We are looking for a candidate with a unique combination of computational competence and strong research skills in management studies with the potential of generating high-quality research outputs. The candidate needs to have a demonstrable passion for entrepreneurship as a practitioner, a scholar or both, coupled with a track record of experience in writing literature reviews.

Inclusive Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Entrepreneurship has been recognised as a key driver of social-economic growth. However, not everyone has the same access to opportunities and resources. Marginalized communities such as women, people of colour, and those from low-income backgrounds often face significant barriers to entrepreneurship. While entrepreneurial ecosystems (EEs) have been considered as a conducive environment for entrepreneurial activities, EEs can be biased in nature. To address this, the concept inclusive EEs has emerged as a means of creating a level playing field for all entrepreneurs. Therefore, this fully funded PhD studentship project aims to provide timely research on understanding inclusive EEs.

This research project aims to improve both theoretical and practical understanding of the inclusive EE concept, and develop a practical tool for supporting the design and development towards an inclusive EE in specific contexts. Taking this broad theme as their starting point, applicants are requested to draft a research proposal of 2,500-4,000 words scoping out how their programme of research would look. Applicants are encouraged to develop their own research questions but, indicatively, might consider:

  • How do we conceptualise and define an inclusive EE?
  • How do we measure and assess an inclusive EE?
  • How can we build and nurture an inclusive EE?

We envisage that the findings from this research will be submitted/published in leading management journals (Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Journal of Business Venturing, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, International Journal of Management Reviews) and have wider relevance in the general management literature. The findings will provide practical knowledge and guidance for scholars across the management discipline and beyond.

The right candidate will quickly become an integral part of the internationally renowned Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship within Cranfield University School of Management (SoM). With SoM, our research students receive excellent training on both quantitative and qualitative research methods and can take advantage of opportunities to gain experience and develop capabilities relating to many aspects of a future academic role, including presenting at academic conferences. The successful candidate will also contribute to related research projects and teaching sessions which is an essential experience for a future academic career.

International Entrepreneurship: a critical analysis of UK SMEs’ experience of entering the Chinese market

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 99% of total businesses in the UK. SMEs are being urged to explore and embrace new overseas trade opportunities helping the UK become an exporting superpower. At the same time, China has presented itself as one of the most promising and growing markets for UK SMEs. Various studies have raised institutional and cultural barriers for entering the Chinese market. However, there is limited understanding about the individual experience of the UK entrepreneurs and managers when exporting goods or services to China.

This project seeks to provide timely research on understanding the exporting experiences of UK SMEs’ and bringing clarity to the current confusion over conducting business in China which is induced by complex factors such as political uncertainty, institutional and cultural differences. This in turn can provide effective support to overcome various barriers and help UK SMEs achieve their full export potential.

The aim of the proposed research is to analyse the UK entrepreneurs’ and managers’ experience about entering into the Chinese market. Specifically, the study will investigate the barriers and enablers that are perceived to be contributing to the successes or failures of SMEs’ internationalisation processes.

Entrepreneurs’ Well-Being, Mental Health, Coping Mechanisms and Resilience

Research has established that psychological well-being affects entrepreneurs’ decision-making, motivation, and action (Shepherd, Williams, & Patzelt, 2015; Stephan et al., 2022a). It is also considered an important indicator of entrepreneurial success in its own right (e.g. Shepherd & Haynie, 2009; Wiklund, Nikolaev, Shir, Foo, & Bradley, 2019).

Despite significant and increasingly more systematic research into entrepreneurs’ well-being (see Lerman et al. (2021); Stephan et al. (2022a) for a meta-analyses), many questions remain. This research aims to develop more fine-grained understanding of entrepreneurs’ well-being and ill-being, their antecedents, consequences, and relationships with other environmental, contextual and psychology of entrepreneurship variables.

We envisage that the findings from this research will be submitted/published in leading management journals (Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Management, Research Policy, Journal of Business Venturing, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, International Journal of Management Reviews), and have wider relevance in the general management literature.

The findings will provide practical tools and guidance for scholars as well as key stakeholders in early-stage investing and business support such as accelerators and funders. There is an increased awareness among this community of the importance of founders’ wellbeing and the need to support it, as evidenced by the growing acceptance of the Founder Mental Health Pledge.

Findings will also become an important part of Cranfield’s training for future researchers. Indeed, there is a view popularised by the UK’s Small Business Charter that entrepreneurial resilience, coping skills and mental health awareness should form an integral part of entrepreneurial education, preparing entrepreneurs for what may come.

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