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Entrepreneurship Research As A Broad Tent - By Prof Nick Williams

CEES Post Graduate Researcher, Sherif Youssef


One of the most rewarding aspects of working at the University of Leeds is exposure to the diversity of expertise among our staff. Given that entrepreneurship is a large and inter-disciplinary field, this provides researchers within the Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies (CEES) opportunities to work across disciplines, developing networks that are focused on examining real world problems with scholars working in psychology, geography, environmental science, international business and beyond.

Within CEES we have researchers working across a number of overlapping but distinct topics. This reflects the broad tent of entrepreneurship research itself.

Entrepreneurship is a large and growing field, and often there is little that generates consensus.

The recent call for papers in the leading journal Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice on ‘knowledge accumulation’ demonstrates this clearly. The call outlines that entrepreneurship is not defined by specific theories, or favoured variables or methods, but by interest in broad phenomena related to novelty and creation. The very diversity of entrepreneurship provides many advantages, allowing researchers to focus on issues of great societal relevance.

CEES Post Graduate Researcher, Sam Appleton

Much of the research in CEES focuses on entrepreneurship in challenging contexts.  Lots of entrepreneurship research focuses on entrepreneurial success, including studies of, for example, geographies such as Silicon Valley, functioning ecosystems and high growth firms. However, much of our research focuses on the people, places and institutions which face significant barriers to entrepreneurial activity or are experiencing significant change. For example, Professor Diane Holt joined CEES in 2019 and has brought significant expertise related to social enterprise and entrepreneurship in Africa; Dr Isla Kapasi is leading on the Entrepreneurial Learning, Practitioner and Policy Special Interest Group at ISBE and has produced leading research on critical perspectives related to entrepreneurial practice; while

Dr Stefania Romano leads on the Creative Industries Special Interest Group and is undertaking research on creative businesses. Dr Alex Kevill has significant expertise in the dynamic capabilities of small firms, while Dr Mariana Estrada-Robles is undertaking a number of studies related to family businesses.

In addition to our staff expertise, our PhD community brings broad perspectives and different approaches that we can all learn from.

CEES staff are currently supervising a wide range of topics including entrepreneurship in transition and post-conflict economies, entrepreneurship policy, family business and entrepreneurial ecosystems.  All of these represent different perspectives which adds to the research culture within CEES and the wider University community.

Taken together, the diversity of research within CEES and beyond is a strength that we are proud of. We are continuing to build on this strength through increased international partnerships, collaborating with leading scholars around the world to co-produce significant and impactful research.

If you would like more information on our research activity please contact the relevant member of staff. They will welcome discussing their work with you.

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Professor Nick Williams is a Professor in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies (CEES) and the Director of the Research in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies (REES).