ISBE President’s Blog


Reflecting on a potpourri of issues

In a previous blog I indicated that ISBE is the home for diverse thinking and debate on all matters regarding small business and entrepreneurship. That is why we have ten community of interest groups to investigate current and future matters in detail. All these activities happen in a dynamic and fast changing environment – everybody knows that and talk about it as if it is somebody else’s concern. We even talk with passion about innovation and how that is going to change our working life. Numbers are discussed such as 30% of the workforce will be replaced by technology. However, nobody is talking about what we should be doing to prevent our unemployment to rise with 30%. Surely I would not be part of that 30% – or will I?

We are talking about issues influencing us currently such as Brexit, exchange rates, social problems – and rightly we should discuss these matters because after all, we all want a quality lifestyle. However, do we reflect adequately about the future or how solutions impacting on each other are creating a mixed bag of results? To reduce traffic in high street will certainly reduce pollution but how will people then get to the high street shops that is already under pressure? Understand me correctly, I am not talking against pollution – I merely illustrate that a solution in isolation can influence other solutions negatively.

As academic researchers we teach our students to be factual when undertaking research. Investigate the facts and principles in an impartial manner and then decide after taking the context in which solutions should be applied into consideration. Yet, our environment is characterised by fake news and emotional reasoning without backing it up with concrete evidence. Or don’t we have concrete evidence on everything because we do not explore deeper and for a longer term than immediate quick fixes?

What role is ISBE playing in this challenging environment? Our focus is to provide excellence in small business and entrepreneurship and we utilises various instruments to achieve that such as the various community interest groups, the International Journal for Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, the Rake fund to stimulate research, and our annual conference.

This year’s conference is in Birmingham and in a smaller venue trying to stimulate active conversations leading to deep and contextualised solutions. After all, a conference is not just about presenting papers. We need to care about the future and not just the now and here. We need to care about how we cross the bridge between academia and industry. In the words of the Conference Chair for 2018, Prof Mark Gilman, “we will be organising a special industry day following the conference to stimulate debate on finding optimal and deep solutions for the current and future challenges during the conference. We want to stimulate maximum discussions during and after this year’s conference.

Let’s utilise this year’s conference optimally finding meaningful ways how to improve on local, regional, national and international challenges. At the end of the conference we will formulate a declaration that can act as basis to determine whether we are providing adequate solutions addressing current and future challenges.

Therefore, I am really looking forward to your contributions in November 2018.

Best wishes

Prof Gideon Maas
President ISBE



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