Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Written by Professor Paul Jones,
Professor of Entrepreneurship and Deputy Director,
Coventry University

A frequent criticism of the academic community is the lack of value and relevance of their work towards the business community. Academic research is often criticised as being overly theoretical and lacking meaning for business world practioners. This criticism does have some basis within certain traditional academic disciplines. The Entrepreneurship discipline is different in that academics must work closely with the business community to provide value and meaning for their activities. The Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) is seeking to address this with its focus and activities in entrepreneurship. ISBE is the premier learned society for Entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom (UK) and believes in research informed practice. The focus of the society is to provide a network for people and organisations involved in small business and entrepreneurship, research policy, education, support and advice. ISBE offers a network of academics, policy makers, business support and small and medium sized enterprise (SME) community. ISBE provided a forum for these groups to evaluate, debate, and disseminate best practice. This is a two way engagement process.

Firstly, as a network we recognise the importance of our effective engagement with the SME community and supporting enterprises to benefit from our activities. Collaboration with the SME community will allow ISBE members to improve their knowledge of business behaviour and processes and potentially imbed best practice through projects and collaboratively funded activity. From the individual SME perspective, enterprises can benefit from engagement with ISBE through improved self-evaluation, observation and adoption of new practices and methods and ongoing engagement with key stakeholder groups.

ISBE offers a regular cycle of events for various stakeholders including an annual two day conference which is rotated around the UK and provides a key forum to discuss entrepreneurial behaviour with key stakeholders. ISBE also offers a regular series of smaller one day and half day events to promote entrepreneurial activity in specific areas. ISBE offers a number of dedicated special interest groups (SiGs) including Entrepreneurial Learning Practice and Policy, Entrepreneurial Finance, Gender and Enterprise Network, Social and Sustainable Enterprises, Rural Entrepreneurship Network. All these SiGs offer dedicated events and focus for discussion within the ISBE community.

ISBE membership also offers access to a leading entrepreneurship journal namely the International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research (IJEBR) which has a unique focus on publishing original research related to the human and social dynamics of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial management in SMEs. IJEBR draws its research from the experience and practices of the SME community so it a highly relevant platform for a range of stakeholders. The Journal is well regarded in academia and globally is the ninth ranked journal for its discipline.

A further element of the ISBE community is the Research and Knowledge Exchange (RAKE) fund. Previously, the RAKE fund has been sponsored by ISBE and a combination of European and academic stakeholders. RAKE offers financial support (e.g. grants of up to £5,000) to new research activities from academics, third sector organisations, businesses, consultants and practitioners to explore a specific issue related to small business behaviour. The fund was created with the aim of assisting the exploration of issues, challenges and opportunities surrounding entrepreneurial activities and small firm performance and to encourage and promote innovative and cutting-edge research which is relevant to both the development of policy and practice. Examples of projects supported include addressing sustainability in entrepreneurship, assessing the value of innovation and invention in SMEs and exploring knowledge exchange and transfer processes and possibilities for SME internationalisation. The choice of project topics is typically aligned with the special interest groups. Such projects offer great opportunities for the SME community, enterprise support agencies and academic to collaborate effectively to drive increased efficiency and effectiveness within the firm.

Pauric McGowan, President of ISBE, said:

“In such a complex and multi-layered environment, it is increasingly important for groups like ISBE to work together with other bodies so that the entrepreneurship research agenda is applicable and relevant to the worlds of work and policy. In our ongoing partnership with the IOEE, we are delighted to be working with a premier organisation that has such established links into the business world. At our joint workshop a few weeks ago with Northumbria University, we saw how the latest research into Human Resources and talent management can have real impact in the practical world of SME startup and development.

As we continue to discuss how we can both advocate for our different networks of members in the entrepreneurship policy arena, we look to an exciting future that brings together the worlds of enterprise research, policy and practice”.

Thinking of becoming a member of ISBE?

IOEE are delighted to announce that a special 20% membership discount is available to existing IOEE members via ISBE’s membership page.
To find out more about the benefits of ISBE membership, click here.