Conducting Research on Eco-innovation and Circular Economy in SMEs

The co-branded event between ECSB and UCLM (University of Castilla la Mancha, Spain, specifically at UCLM we involved the UCLM-JCCM Chair on Circular Economy – this Chair has been fostered by JCCM which is the regional government of Castilla La Mancha) was titled “Conducting Research on Eco-innovation and Circular Economy in SMEs” and took place in Cuenca (SPAIN) during 9th and 10th of December 2021 in a hybrid format (some attendants were in person and others online through Teams). The organizers of the event within UCLM were Francisco Sáez Martínez (Professor of Management and Co-Chair of the UCLM-JCCM Chair on Circular Economy) and Cristina Díaz García (Associate Professor of Management and Spain Vice President for ECSB). There were 35 attendants from seven nationalities (Spain, Colombia, Ireland, Poland, Sweden, Oman, Rwanda).

Plenary session of the Eco-innnovation conference
Plenary session of the event

The event consisted in two keynotes and five paper presentation sessions grouping the papers around similar topics.

The first keynote speaker was Alberto Aragón Correa, who is Professor of Strategy and Sustainability at Univ. Granada and Honorary Professor at Univ. Surrey (, he has been awarded “2021 One Distinguished Academic Scholar by Academy of Management, he presented his last research published on Academy of Management Annals “The effects of mandatory and voluntary regulatory pressures on firms’ environmental strategies”.

Professor Alberto Aragón Correa giving his keynote speech
Professor Alberto Aragón Correa giving his keynote speech.

The second keynote speaker was Rodrigo Lozano, who is Professor of Organisational Sustainability and co-director of the Center of Logistics and Innovative Production (CLIP) at the University of Gävle, Sweden (visiting professor at Central University of Technology at Bloemfontein, South Africa). He is Specialty Chief Editor of Frontiers in Organisations for Sustainability (previously editor-in-chief for the Journal of Cleaner Production). He presented, based on his latest research, the keynote “Circular Economy: Theories, practice and a holistic framework”.

Picture of the Professor Rodrigo Lozano keynote speech.
The second keynote speaker was Professor Rodrigo Lozano.

In total 14 papers were accepted from presentation, they were in different stages of development, but all of them received feedback to foster their progression, contributing to the aims of ECSB:

  1. advance the understanding of entrepreneurship (papers were focused on sustainable entrepreneurship education interaction with sustainability orientation in fostering sustainable entrepreneurship intention and behaviour, analysing the determinants of sustainable entrepreneurship in bioeconomy and wine sector, exploring a better model of KPIs to measure circularity in marketing within the tourism sector, providing a systematic literature review on Circular Economy research or analysing consumers’ values in their purchase intent of green products),
  2. research aimed to improve the competitiveness of SMEs in Europe (many papers were focused on the impact of circular economy on firms’ performance -in conjunction with technology orientation or eco-innovation-, two papers presented interesting chemical processes as eco-innovations in order to reuse waste materials -polyurethanes-, two papers focused on regulatory frameworks at a multi-country level either comparing national systems of eco-innovation to provide guide for action in a developing country or analysing the institutional variables that can decrease appropriability problems fostering eco-innovation patents).

The event website:

Authors: Professor Francisco Sáez Martínez and Associate Professor Cristina Díaz García, University of Castilla la Mancha

Creating a Community for Conducting Experiments in Entrepreneurship Research

Today, we are launching the call for papers for the third edition of the ECSB co-branded event “Conducting Experiments in Entrepreneurship Research Workshop” organized by the University of Groningen Centre for Entrepreneurship, The Netherlands. In this workshop for young scholars, we focus on the use of experimental designs to study entrepreneurship.

In this blogpost we would like to share our experiences during the previous editions of this workshop and highlight why we think it is important to create such a community of scholars. During last year’s edition, we received submissions on a wide variety of theoretical topics within entrepreneurship research, and all papers used an experimental design to test their hypotheses. This was already the second edition, and the first time we hosted it online!

During these three days, we got inspired by keynote sessions by Dr. Basil Englis (Berry College, USA), Dr. Denis Grégoire (HEC Montreal, Canada) and Dr. Magdalena Cholakova (Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands). On the first day, Basil brought all participants on the same page regarding experimental designs with his keynote “So, … what is an experiment anyway?” On the second workshop day, Denis discussed the validity trade-offs that need to be made when designing an experiment. On the last day, Magdalena took us on a tour through history and showed us an overview of the history of experimental designs.

After the keynote presentations, we organized parallel sessions in which we discussed over 25 papers. Due to the small-scale setting, every presenter had 15 minutes to share their work with the audience. After that, the assigned reviewer, other participants, and a workshop facilitator provided the presenters with excellent feedback!

We were happy to host a “meet the SI editors” with Dr. Sílvia Costa, Dr. Susana Santos, Dr. Silke Tegtmeier and Dr. Mark Schenkel for the Special Issue on “Experimental Designs to Address Current Challenges in Entrepreneurship Education Research” at the journal Entrepreneurship Education & Pedagogy. They shared with more information about the special issue the audience and answered questions.

To facilitate and stimulate networking among the participants, we organized a great networking event hosted by Dutch start-up Brain Fuel and super energetic entrepreneur Friso Visser! Using their self-developed creativity tools, Friso organized a great creative game for all participants, which gave them food for conversation. It was a great conversation starter.

We have enlarged our network with more than 50 participants representing 17 countries! It is great to see the community of entrepreneurship scholars that use experimental designs grow! We look forward to reading all the great experiments presented during the workshop in print soon! We are honored to have co-organized this event with the generous support of ECSB and look forward to the next edition.

We truly believe that the growing interest in the entrepreneurship research community around using experiments as a methodology requires the creation of a work group where we can share experiences, resources and guidance. The evaluation showed that participants were very happy with the workshop’s organization and they found the feedback they received very constructive and helpful.

Looking back at last year’s edition, we are very happy to announce the launch of the Call for Papers for the third edition of the workshop. If you are working on a study using experimental designs, please consider submitting your work to this year’s edition! Please see all details for the third edition here:

Authors: Arjan Frederiks and Sílvia Costa, University of Groningen

The Good, the Bad and The Ugly in Entrepreneurship Education

The Professional Development Workshop (PDW) about learning from good and bad experiences in entrepreneurship took place in early February 2021. In this workshop my colleagues and I, presented the fundaments of our innovative teaching and research methodology where learning from business failure and business closure is the central topic. We call it Project Fenix and during the past three years we have collected stories of entrepreneurial growth of vibrant companies who have experienced some kind of crisis. Success and failure are scenarios in the marvelous world of entrepreneurship, where the courage and decisiveness needed to start a business are just as important when it comes to shutting it down.

After 5 months of PDW there has been already some developments in this area, and I as one of the organizers share them with the community. The first one is the growing attention to vicarious learning to learn from difficult times, fueled mainly by the difficulties experienced during the global pandemic. Entrepreneurship education is showing a more realistic perspective of entrepreneurship with events where both the positive and negative sides of launching a startup or running a business are being mentioned. The participants of the PDW shared our observation that many students in entrepreneurship programs become very well equipped to learn from successful and accomplished entrepreneurs and to take over the world, so to speak. However, we also noticed that students lack skills to spot signals of businesses about to fail. As such, students were not aware of the necessary paperwork to close a company, nor the consequences of company failure for the staff or for themselves, and lacked understanding of how to deal with such difficult situations.

As such, students were not aware of the necessary paperwork to close a company, nor the consequences of company failure for the staff or for themselves, and lacked understanding of how to deal with such difficult situations.

A second development is the use of the Fenix Database (approximately 750 stories so far) by Master and Bachelor students in their thesis. Students acquired access to the anonymised stories and carried out research to learn about role models in entrepreneurship education, the use of networks in recovery processes and about the change in future perspectives after an experience of business failure. Together with research activities, the lessons from entrepreneurs and advisors have been translated into a wide variety of educational products and teaching materials: reflection for students, integral parts of business plans, media products, and research proposals. We keep being encouraged when students come back to tell us how much they learn from business failure, and how useful would it be for them to know more about prevention and dealing with crisis in their curriculum.

A third development is informing business advisors as a way to reach a broader public. The PDW of February was meant to target educators and coaches, especially those looking for teaching and assessment inspiration to better prepare student entrepreneurs for the turbulent journey of setting up and running own businesses. Besides, it also targeted researchers who are interested in a model for research design which links them up with students, educators and the real businesses via an innovative methodology plugged in entrepreneurship modules. The missing piece was to interact with a broader public, which is now being achieved in the testing of the final products for a project about early warning signals for business crisis called SmartUp. Fenix Project lays a strong foundation in providing a framework of existing knowledge in this topic, that is used for the current  development of an online course for educators and advisors in the field of entrepreneurship.

At last, a strong partnership to collaborate is paying off. Newcastle Business School is a wonderful partner, not only for adopting Project Fenix but also adapting it in the best way possible in their curriculum. At the same time, we have learned from their unique module on business closure. Together, we are publishing a book about the lessons of Project Fenix; this book shall be available (digital and paper copies) at the end of summer of 2021. It is very important for us to keep working with partners beyond the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, who share this view of learning from the bad times in entrepreneurship.

We hope to cross paths soon again with those who participated in the PDW of February, or with other like-minded ones with interest in the topic of learning from the good, the bad and the ugly in entrepreneurship. We would be pleased if you become a new companion on this journey; so we invite you to join Project Fenix to collaborate and learn better from business failure and closure. In the near future we hope to expand this teaching and research methodology to other languages, and hope to strengthen the collaboration with colleagues all over Europe and the world.

Author: JuanFra Alvarado Valenzuela
Senior Researcher at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Five practical recommendations for your next review

An important part of the work we do as researchers is reviewing. But reviewing conference abstracts is different from reviewing full papers since you have to judge a researcher’s work based solely on a summary of about 1000 words. That’s quite a challenge! So how can we do this effectively? In this article, I put together five practical recommendations for your next review of a conference abstract – in particular of course with the RENT conference in mind.

I am sharing with you my expertise and experience as a reviewer, who was selected as one of the best reviewers at the RENT in 2019. Additionally, I invited three of my colleagues who were awarded as best reviewers at the RENT as well to share their insights. So now you are getting five practical recommendations from four best reviewers – to step up your reviewing game for the RENT and other conferences!

Abstracts represent our work and ideas – those ideas that still need to grow and fully develop. As reviewers, we can help our colleagues with this challenge! (Photo by Singkham at Pexels)
  1. Be constructive and respectful

Some people believe that a good review needs to be as critical as possible. While I am all in favour of critical perspectives, each review should offer exactly that: perspectives. My colleague Dagmar sums up our role as reviewers nicely:

I feel that as a reviewer, it is your role to help the authors write the best version of their paper, by providing them with insights that you may have that they themselves have maybe not yet realized. It is thus your responsibility to help them forward [and] to be constructive: your goal is to aid people, not to tear them down. They have put in effort in their work and thus you are responsible for returning this favour. (Dagmar Ylva Hattenberg)

In a small research community such as the ECSB you are likely to meet the person whose work you have reviewed again. Hence, we recommend that we should all definitely return this favour. What I always do is I read the review again after some time has passed, and then ask myself: If I met the author(s) at RENT and had to deliver my review directly to them, would it feel right? If so, you have probably written a constructive review.

  1. Be specific and transparent

It’s sometimes the small details that make a review really helpful for the authors. If you give references, provide the full references so that people can actually find it. Give the authors some insight into why you think that a specific point is problematic or what kind of flaw there is in the theoretical framework. And, of course, be specific about the paper that you have in front of you not what you would write yourself instead

This last point is especially important for reviewing conference abstracts, because abstracts typically leave the space to imagine a variety of different storylines for full papers. If you feel that it is helpful for the authors, point them towards the various possibilities they have to further develop their paper. However, most of your comments should clearly relate to the abstract right in front of you.

  1. Structure your process

Let’s see how people are actually doing this and how it works for them when they have the usual 4-6 abstracts to review for the RENT. My colleague Margo takes about an hour for each abstract and structures her process like this:

  1. Read the abstract
  2. Read the abstract again, and make notes
  3. Collect the notes into comprehensive themes for feedback
  4. Write a few thematic feedback points
  5. Read the written review again and check the tone and understandability
    (Margo Enthoven)

Now, the actual process can of course look a bit different for everyone. Most of us agreed that we read all the abstracts first, and then each one individually in more depth. There is no perfect process, but having a structure makes your process, and hence your reviews, better.

  1. Focus on key points

There are always a lot of things you can comment on in conference abstracts, because a lot of information is, of course, still missing. However, avoid writing reviews that are longer than the actual abstract. For me, a good rule of thumb is to focus on the three key points that I want the authors to get from my review. These are typically points that relate to the overall storyline, the expected contribution and the possible further directions for a paper. These major points are what I focus on in my reviews. Your review does not need to cover every aspect of the abstract, but it should open up developmental perspectives for the authors and help them to realize the potential of their work.

  1. Judge potential in a fair way

Regarding a fair judgement, one of the most challenging things about reviewing abstracts is that you are not judging the complete work, but you mostly judge potential. My colleague Sanna describes it like this:

The papers are in different stages. Sometimes, particularly in early-stage papers, it can be difficult to understand the idea and overall scientific value of the paper. Then it simply requires time to "digest" the paper. It might be that the paper cannot be accepted for the conference but I still try to provide good comments for the future development. (Sanna Ilonen) 

As a reviewer, I very much agree that it takes time to digest certain papers, especially if they feel a bit unfamiliar or are not so closely related to what you normally work on. Now to actually judge potential, a key point is to reflect: Will this paper be developed into a full paper by the expected deadline? If it is presented at RENT: will my fellow colleagues be excited about its presentation? Of course, sometimes the answer to this is “no”. Hence, in order to keep up the quality of a conference, you will sometimes recommend that an abstract won’t be accepted. That might feel difficult, but it is just as important for a research community than an enthusiastic acceptance.

Now back to the second part of what Sanna said: even if an abstract cannot be accepted, you can help the authors with the future development of the work. Your judgement call will not always be considered fair or be shared by the other reviewers, but if the authors understand why their work has been declined and they have some guidance how to proceed, they will experience this as a fair process – one that shows respect for your fellow researchers’ work.

These are 5 simple recommendations to guide you through your reviewing process. On behalf of the ECSB: thank you for your dedication as reviewers to developing our supportive community. If you want to discuss further, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or Twitter!

Author: Verena Meyer, Leuphana University of Lüneburg; ECSB Country Vice-President for Germany

Recap: Developing Responsible and Sustainable Innovations in Entrepreneurship Education

As entrepreneurship scholars and educators, we typically use project seminars to teach students about entrepreneurship. During those project seminars we let the students choose what exactly they want to work on. Projects they work on range from apps that want to enable consumers to save time when grocery shopping or be able to follow a healthy vegan diet, to concepts such as cafés to share skills or strengthen community-building. This shows that the concepts that the students develop often incorporate thoughts on sustainability. Nonetheless, these concepts often lack an overall and thorough reflection of the possible negative and positive sustainable outcomes. So how could we get these students to develop holistic sustainable ideas and critically assess the impact of their innovations?

For the latest Professional Development Workshop, hosted by ECSB, I teamed up with two sustainability scholars, Flavio Pinheiro Martins and Yasmin Azim Zadeh, to tackle this challenge. The idea to this workshop was born at a conference about responsible innovation, that took place last year. For me, as an entrepreneurship scholar who had mainly attended entrepreneurship conferences, this was a new community and an unknown discourse – but one which I felt greatly inspired by. As someone facilitating innovation processes, I was constantly wondering how to support the development of sustainable ideas. Responsible innovation seems to be one promising answer to this. Since this conference, Flavio and I have been working on the idea of bringing together sustainability and entrepreneurship, especially in education.

In the sandbox, virtual representation and haptic experience are thought together to combine perspectives ©Leuphana/Patrizia Jäger

At this point, Yasmin and I would like to share our experiences working in a project called ‘Sandbox Innovation Process’ at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg, which aims to foster open innovation to tackle regional challenges. This project builds innovation communities within a framework of an open innovation process. We leverage this process by creating a basis of trust through various team building activities and repeated feedback sessions. The main chance and the main challenge in this process is the heterogeneity of its participants: students, pensioners, entrepreneurs, citizens – all from the same region, but with different outlooks and perspectives. This inclusion of perspectives is one of the key points in a process of responsible innovation.

When we look at entrepreneurial projects from a lens of responsible innovation, we can teach our students not only about entrepreneurship, but also about sustainability. In our Professional Development Workshop, we aimed to work explicitly with a concept of sustainability. For this, the sustainable development goals (SDGs) presented a good framework to get started. As educators, we appreciate the great material that is freely available and the easy access for our participants to this concept. While the SDGs are one way to engage with sustainability, we felt that by asking participants how their ideas related to the SDGs (in negative and positive ways) was indeed a good starting point for reflection. This reflexivity is again a key point towards responsible innovation, which strives towards making a positive impact in society.

Of course, we learned a lot from our participants as well. One question was of particular interest and intensely discussed: how can we be part of the solution if we are also part of the problem? The educator who brought this up felt that she was part of the generation which is responsible for the current mess that is our planet. While many of us could well relate to this feeling, a key point from the other participants was that this should not stop us. Especially if we are part of the problem, it is our responsibility to become part of the solution. As educators, we can have a great influence by supporting our students in making a difference. Strengthening responsible innovation in entrepreneurship education means increasing our positive impact in society. This workshop, hopefully, provided a small starting point into this direction – and we would love to discuss further, so join us for a discussion on ResearchGate!

Further information:

  • The project Sandbox Innovation Process is funded by the European Fund for Regional Development (EFRE) and the federal state of Lower Saxony and situated at the Leuphana University’s Cooperation Service with Prof. Markus Reihlen as the scientific project leader. More information: (in German)
  • SDGs and Entrepreneurship: Horne, J., Recker, M., Michelfelder, I., Jay, J., & Kratzer, J. (2020). Exploring entrepreneurship related to the sustainable development. Journal of Cleaner Production, 242, 118052.
  • Responsible Innovation: Stilgoe, J., Owen, R., & Macnaghten, P. (2013). Developing a framework for responsible innovation. Research policy42(9), 1568-1580.

Author: Verena Meyer, Leuphana University of Lüneburg with Flavio Pinheiro Martins, University of Sao Paulo, and Yasmin Azim Zadeh, Leuphana University of Lüneburg

Experiences on RENT Conferences

As a young researcher, you always look for a scientific community. At the RENT conference and within ECSB, I think I have found mine. Last week I was at the RENT conference at the ESCP Business School in Berlin – this was my 4th time at the RENT conference.

Graffiti at a school in Berlin, about learning and growth – favourite quote: “If I were you, I would like to be me!”

It is time to look back:

  1. The RENT was my first conference ever – to participate and to do a presentation (on the 1st day, in the 1st session, as the 1st presenter… talk about a jump into cold water!)
  2. The community made me feel very welcome, even when I was still a Master’s student (thanks to Silke Tegtmeier for opening up this opportunity for me so early!)
  3. Gave me a chance to travel on my own to Antwerp, Lund, and Toledo (and for completeness: Berlin), which made my mum worry and me happy about the opportunity
  4. Made me a better researcher – through great and always (!) constructive feedback for my own work, but also through a lot of impulses and interesting people
  5. Made me a better reviewer and provider of feedback – which was particularly appreciated this year when I got nominated as best reviewer with two senior colleagues: Friederike Welter and Gry Agnete Alsos, whose work I greatly admire. Now I have a nice certificate, sparkling wine and a lot of motivation to continue reviewing.

A picture from the gala dinner and the award ceremony – from left to right: Sophia Marie Braun, Silke Tegtmeier, Verena Meyer, Friederike Welter, Gry Agnete Alsos, and René Mauer

It feels great to be taken seriously as a young researcher and grow within a community!

Author: Verena Meyer, Leuphana University of Lüneburg

This post appeared first on LinkedIn, feel free to contact Verena to share experiences-

8th International ENTIME Conference

The Faculty of Management and Economics of Gdansk University of Technology during two days (11-12 April 2019) hosted over 80 participants at the 8th International ENTIME Conference. Among them were speakers from 12 countries (Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia, Germany, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Turkey, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy and Ukraine) representing 37 different institutions. The main purpose of the conference was to review scientific research on entrepreneurship and business activities and provide useful workshops for PhD students and early career researchers. This entrepreneurship conference was also designed to bring together leading-edge views of academic scholars and insightful practitioners from the fields of international business and small business/entrepreneurship, in order to examine challenges and risks that firms have to face and deal with in a modern economy. The event was a great opportunity to share knowledge and experience of entrepreneurial research and studies from all over the world.

The conference was opened by prof. Piotr Dominiak, Vice-Rector for internationalization and innovation, and dr hab. Julita Wasilczuk, prof. Associate. GUT, Dean of the Faculty of Management and Economics GUT.

– In this year’s edition we hosted many participants not only from various universities from Poland but also from abroad. We are happy with such diversity. We also enjoy very good opinions about the conference itself. I think that the event was indeed a good place to exchange views, present research results, learn about various scientific approaches to the proposed topics, and there were a lot of them and touched the topic of modern entrepreneurship from many perspectives, summarizes Dr. Magdalena Popowska, coordinator of the eighth edition of the ENTIME conference.

Special guests – prof. Wojciech Czakon from the Jagiellonian University, presenting a lecture entitled “A behavioral perspective on network embeddedness” and prof. Tomasz Mickiewicz from Ashton University presenting the lecture entitled “Entrepreneurship as Trust.”

ENTIME image_blog

The conference was divided into seven thematic panels, in which areas were discussed, including ties between enterprises, networks and social capital; entrepreneurial responsibility; technology, innovation and internationalization of enterprises; succession in family businesses; qualitative and quantitative methods of researching entrepreneurship as well as social economy and social entrepreneurship.

The conference panels were followed by a workshop  entitled “Writing a good abstract for RENT” led by the conference partner European Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ECSB) and a lecture entitled “Succession challenges – Workshop with entrepreneurs” led by the Training and Advisory Group ODiTK and Business Solutions.

The conference partners were: ECSB and the National Bank of Poland

The conference was covered by the Honorary Patronage:

Rector of the Gdansk University of Technology; Marshal of the Pomeranian Voivodeship; The President of the City of Gdansk; Dean of the Faculty of Management and Economics of GUT; Pomeranian employers; The Gdansk Business Club; Polish Investment Zone; Pomeranian Special Economic Zone; Gdansk Science and Technology Park and the media patron of Radio Gdansk.

Thank you for participating and see you in two years at the 9th edition of ENTIME!

Author: Magdalena Licznerska, Gdansk University of Technology

Joint Paper Development Workshop

Internationalization, Entrepreneurship and Innovation – A Multilevel Perspective

The 2nd Applied Economics and Management (AEM) and Technology and Innovation Management (TIM) PhD Programs is a Joint Paper Development Workshop for doctoral students and early career academics. This has been an opportunity for PhD students and young scholars to present their research and discuss it in an international, productive and collaborative environment. Participants received feedback and suggestions on their own research ideas and presentation in front of academic, in addition to obtaining insights on the writing of publishable journal papers, selection of research methods. To reach this objective, the paper presentation have been structured in 8 parallel sessions with the chairs that ran the discussion allowed the students to get very useful feedback on their research. Each track chair received the work in advance, so the discussion was aimed at providing useful suggestions to students on how to focus future research increases. Moreover, the workshop has included the participation of renowned scholars specialised in entrepreneurship, who have provided comments and suggestions on proposals sent by the participants.  Two plenary sessions have been organised with the following guest speakers:

  • Howard Aldrich, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA: “How to present a research project”
  • Roberto Parente, University of Salerno, Italy: “Human Entrepreneurship”
  • Alberto Felice De Toni, University of Udine: “Introductory speech”
  • Francesca Cesaroni, University of Urbino: “How to join ECSB”


Finally, the participants also had the opportunity to enjoy a guided visit to the first European Apple Academy (IoS Academy). This academy is located within the Technological Pole San Giovanni a Teduccio of the University of Naples Federico II, and is an entire floor totally dedicated to the IoS software development activities, a uniqueness in the European landscape. The visit and the presentation stimulated the curiosity of the students towards the issues surrounding entrepreneurship with specific focus on the hi-tech sector.

Several networking moments were organised, including the social dinner. Such moments are always extremely useful for creating connections and generating exchanges of opinions. Overall, the feedback from the participants in the Seminar has been very positive and has encouraged us to organise the 3rd Joint Paper Development Workshop in 2020.


Invited speakers

Howard E. Aldrich received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and is Kenan Professor of Sociology, Adjunct Professor of Business at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Faculty Research Associate at the Department of Strategy & Entrepreneurship, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, and Fellow, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University. His main research interests are entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial team formation, gender and entrepreneurship, and evolutionary theory.

Roberto Parente is Full Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at University of Salerno (Italy). He’s the Director of the Master M2I “Entrepreneurship and Open Innovation” , and previously he was in charge of the Master RISS “Tech Transfer in Life Science”. Founder and Director of LISA Lab a Research Centre whose main topics are: Science Based startup; Students Entrepreneurship; Finance for innovation. His main research interests are entrepreneurship, innovation, entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Alberto Felice De Toni has been the Rector of the University of Udine since 2013 and Secretary General of CRUI Conference of Rectors of Italian Universities since 2015. He is the president of the Foundation of CRUI Conference of Rectors of Italian Universities. He is full professor of “Organization of Production” and “Management of Complex Systems” in the degree course of Management Engineering. He was President of the Degree Course in Management Engineering (from 2001 to 2006) and Dean of the Engineering Faculty (from 2006 to 2012).

Francesca Maria Cesaroni is associate professor of Business Economics at the University of Urbino “Carlo Bo”, Department of Economics, Society and Politics. She teaches accounting, entrepreneurship and small businesses. Her main research topics concern small and medium-sized enterprises, entrepreneurship, women’s businesses, family businesses, generational change, financial communication. She is a member of the Italian Association for the Study of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASPI). She is a member of the Editorial Board of some scientific journals and a reviewer of other international academic journals. Since 2012, Francesca Maria Cesaroni is a member of AFECA (Association de Formazioni Européennes à la Comptabilité et à l’Audit), a stable network with contributions from all over the world. Since 2009 she is coordinator of the PhD in Economics & Management, Department of Economics, Society and Politics, University of Urbino. She is also Italy country vice president for ECSB (European Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship).


The target group of the workshop has been PhD students and young scholars who aim at a continued academic career in the fields of entrepreneurship, innovation, and international entrepreneurship. In particular, 30 proposals have been received for participation in the seminar. 26 of them have been accepted for presentation, although only 23 contributions were presented during the workshop due to some last minute absence. The contributions have been split in eight parallel sessions each with a track chair. The majority are either PhD students or early career researchers. Additionally, participants attended also two plenary sessions.

Track chairs are professors and researchers from University of Naples (Pierluigi Rippa and Ivana Quinto), University of Bergamo (Tommaso Minola and Davide Hahn), University of Pavia (Antonella Zucchella and Giovanna Magnani) and University of Salerno (Roberto Parente, Massimiliano Vesci and Antonio Botti).

Overall, 41 participants attended the seminar, made up of approximately 9 professors, 11 early career academics, and 21 PhD students.


This is the second year TIM and AEM organise the joint PhD workshop.  The event has been organised by the University of Naples Federico II (UNINA), which will be the RENT 2020 host. This workshop is included in the “Road to RENT 2020” program aimed at increasing the number of interested researchers in the ECSB network attending the conference.

The seminar has been supported by the European Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ECSB) and it has been co-branded by:

  • RENT (Research in Entrepreneurship and Small Business)
  • EIASM (European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management)
  • AIIG (Italian Association of Engineering Management)
  • SIMA (Italian association of Management Scholars)

Local Organisers:
Ivana Quinto and Pierluigi Rippa

Scientific Committee:
Davide Hahn, Giovanna Magnani, Tommaso Minola, Ivana Quinto, Pierluigi Rippa, Antonella Zucchella

Author: Pierluigi Rippa, University of Naples

Edinburgh Social Entrepreneurship Conference 2019: Organizing for Social Change

Edinburgh, June 03-04, 2019

The Edinburgh Social Entrepreneurship Conference 2019 was a two-day event hosted at the University of Edinburgh Business School on the 3rd and 4th of June 2019. The conference responded to the rapidly growing interest in social entrepreneurship (SE) research as a continuously developing domain with high importance for theory and practice. The event offered a valuable opportunity for a limited number of PhD students and early-career academics to discuss and develop their ongoing work with distinguished experts in the social entrepreneurship field. Scholars who are more advanced in their careers were also welcome to attend.

Picture1Invited Speakers

It was with great pleasure to welcome a broad range of distinguished academics who discussed the work of the participants and gave insights into their own most recent research. The academic speakers included:

  • Benson Honig is Professor of Human Resources and Management as well as the Teresa Cascioli Chair in Entrepreneurial Leadership at DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University, Canada.
  • Mairi Maclean is Associate Dean and Professor of Management, Strategy and Organization at the University of Bath, UK.
  • Frank Moulaert is Professor of Spatial Planning and Head of the Planning and Development Unit ASRO at KU Leuven, Belgium.
  • John Amis is Professor of Strategic Management and Organisation at the University of Edinburgh Business School.
  • Helen Haugh is Senior Lecturer in Community Enterprise and Research Director at the Centre for Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School, UK.
  • Ben Spigel is Chancellor’s Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the University of Edinburgh Business School.
  • Sarah Ivory is Lecturer in Climate Change and Business Strategy at the University of Edinburgh Business School.
  • Winston Kwon is Chancellor’s Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Strategic Management at the University of Edinburgh Business School.

The conference also took a practice perspective on SE and invited a number of leading Scottish social entrepreneurs including Zakia Moulaoui (Founder of Invisible Cities), Colin McMillan (Program Manager at Firstport), and Jonny Kinross (Chief Executive at Grassmarket).


A broad range of 38 international participants comprised predominantly PhD students and early-career academics. It was a very diverse group from several countries and renown universities, such as: Italy (Bocconi University; Politecnico di Milano), UK (University of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh, University of Exeter, University of Southampton, Newcastle University, University of Bath), Denmark (University of Southern Denmark), Sweden (Stockholm Business School), Canada (McMaster University, Memorial University of Newfoundland), Taiwan (Creative Education and Management Foundation).


Programme Sessions

Participants had the chance to present their research in a number of paper presentation sessions. Each participant was given a 30 minutes presentation slot and received valuable feedback from the senior academics mentioned above, as well as from fellow students and other session participants. The conference programme furthermore comprised different panel and discussion sessions. For example, in the session “Closing the Gap between Theory & Practice”, leading academics and practitioners discussed the practical impact of SE research. In a research seminar titled “Crafting Philanthropic Identities”, the audience got detailed insights into the evolvement of a high-quality research paper. The most popular session of the event, however, was “Getting Published in Leading Journals: Insights from Editors and Authors”. In this session editors from leading academic journals shared their insights into what scholars need to consider during their publication journey. The session sharpened participants view by illustrating them the do’s and don’ts for high-level publications.

In general, the friendly and familiar atmosphere of the event provided a comfortable environment and great networking opportunities for all participants. Drinks receptions and dinner opportunities provided the sustenance and ensured a highly dynamic and interactive spirit. This way, participants built connections with lasting impact beyond the Edinburgh Social Entrepreneurship Conference. Overall, the organization committee of the conference was highly pleased with the positive feedback received and hereby expresses its gratitude to all participants and supporters who facilitated the fantastic event. Special thanks go out to the European Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ECSB) and the University of Edinburgh Business School, the main supporters of the event. We hope to be able to continue hosting the Edinburgh Social Entrepreneurship Conference in the years to come.

Authors: Florian Koehne and Chris Klinghardt, Heads of the Organizing Committee, University of Edinburgh Business School

Designing and Assessing Learning in Venture Creation Programs

In Venture Creation Programs the venture acts as a ‘learning vessel’, enabling what students need to learn – and more. Under guiding support, students need to engage in doing what they are expected to do as practicing entrepreneurs. But if these activities become detached from the rest of the education, as educators we do not know the extent to which students have actually practiced these skills, if they have learned to master them, and if they are aware why they have done them in a certain way. Furthermore, we do not know if the actions are trial and error or if they are using curriculum to become informed about how to do and to reflect upon what they have done and what they need to do next to move the venture forward. Given the venture creation program setting, a key question is: to what extent are our learning objectives regarding entrepreneurial mindsets and skillsets actually fulfilled? How do we ensure that the students are engaging in ‘doing what they need to do’ in order to ‘learn what they need to learn’?

We are educators facilitating learning on a daily basis in two VCPs: Chalmers School of Entrepreneurship and NTNU School of Entrepreneurship. The issue of how to design and assess learning in order to ensure that the students are learning what they need to learn is therefore continuously on our minds and in our discussions. For the Practitioner Development Workshop (PDW) at the 3E 2018 Conference in Enschede we decided to discuss this issue with other entrepreneurship educators. The participants were divided in groups around a two-by-two matrix with mindset and skillset on the x-axis and classroom and venture on the y-axis. Each group started their discussion by recalling and sharing a learning activity. Thereafter, the challenge was to combine this learning activity with activities from the other side of the y-axis (thereby combining theory and practice) and suggest how the assessment should be made for the combined activity. When all groups presented what they had done, the participants described that the matrix had challenged them to think about various possibilities of combining activities compared to their standard practice. The participants confessed that their group discussions had brought to light the particular difficulty of assessing development of mindset as takes place in the venture.

At the VCP-forum the same year, 25 participants from European and North-American VCPs gathered to discuss best practices, better practices and challenges of facilitating learning in VCPs. The participants of the VCP-forum did not find the combination of academic work and venture creation difficult per se and had a clear idea of how it should co-exist in their programs on the structural level. It was the practical aspects of how to facilitate learning in this way that were perceived to be the most challenging. For instance, the program managers recalled being frustrated when students did not seem to be aware of ‘what was good for them’, prioritized the wrong meetings, or simply did not engage in and complete enough academic or practical tasks to see the whole picture. The program managers agreed that it is the documented learning from the venture creation process that should be assessed, and not the results (read: success, or not) of the venture being created. However, there was still no consensus on how to practically capture the learning experience, in part due to the contextual complexity inherent in each environment, compiled by the unique variables of each venture journey.

Thus, ensuring that the students are engaging in ‘doing what they need to do’ in order to ‘learn what they need to learn’ is a multi-faceted problem with many issues that are still unresolved. But we can recognize that these issues depend upon the design and assessment of learning, which helps to focus our attention as educators. Everyone working in a VCP witness the benefits of using academic knowledge when analyzing the situation in a venture while simultaneously using the practical understanding from venture creation when approaching theoretical concepts. We can recognize that when puzzle pieces fall into place, students are able to climb steep learning curves at a remarkable speed. We therefore need to continue to discuss and share experiences between VCPs in order to continue to improve facilitation and assessment of learning processes.



Karen Williams Middleton (on right) is Associate Professor in entrepreneurship at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden and Lise Aaboen (on left) is Professor of technology-based entrepreneurship at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway.

We were invited to write this blogpost based on our PDW-award from the 3E 2018 Conference in Enschede, the Netherlands. The second part of the blog post is based on a conference paper that summarized the VCP-forum in Trondheim 2018. If you want to discuss VCPs, do not hesitate to send us an e-mail (karen.williams(a); lise.aaboen(a)

Williams Middleton, Karen and Lise Aaboen (2018) “Designing and Assessing Learning in Venture Creation Programs”. PDW at 3E ECSB Entrepreneurship Education Conference, in Enschede, the Netherlands on May 16-18, 2018.

Haneberg, Dag Håkon, Lise Aaboen and Karen Williams Middleton (2019) “An evidence-based research agenda for action-based entrepreneurship education“. Presented at CREE Entrepreneurship Education, rethinking connections: Implications, Opportunities and Changes, in Roanne, France on March 7-8, 2019.