ISBE President’s January Blog


The Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship President’s Best wishes for 2017

A comment from George Bernard Shaw suggests that all progress depends on unreasonable men and women. I imagine the reference to being ‘unreasonable’ means that people will, to a greater or lesser extent, behave in ways contrary to what is perhaps wise in the circumstances. I suppose it’s a bit like starting a new business venture or implementing plans to grow an existing one in the teeth of a deep, persistent recession when all wisdom suggests you need to hunker down until the storm has passed. Such a challenge to behave ‘unreasonably’ seems to be a very entrepreneurial one. The general consensus since June, and as we await clarity as to the basis on which we will relate to the EU going forward, is that in the UK we continue to experience an ongoing period of uncertainty. Many have identified attendant risks while others seek opportunities. In October at the Institute’s annual conference, a ‘long conversation’ was started about what might be the implications, good or ill, of BREXIT, particularly in the academic sector but also for those in entrepreneurial business practice. It’s a conversation that we will want to progress during the year and at our 2017 conference in Belfast in November when matters might be a little clearer!

The Institute had a busy year in 2016 culminating at the end of October in Paris with what attendees have told us was one of our best annual Conferences. There were almost 400 attendees, including delegates from over 40 countries from around the world. Almost 20% of the Institute’s members now come from other EU member states and beyond. So it is clear that the Institute is appealing to constituencies outside the UK while its profile in the UK continues to grow. This is to be celebrated. The Institute looks forward to 2017 with expectation and optimism, and with good reason. During the past year, members of the Board of Trustees met to set out a clear way forward for the Institute and to set new paths for progress. An announcement will be made in the coming months of the results of that effort but one key outcome worth mentioning is the new emphasis on the development of Communities of Interest and Special Interest Groups. Such is the importance being attached to this development that the Trustees decided that it was critical to appoint a Vice-President for Communities to oversee its progress. Do please consider supporting your Institute’s work to develop and grow new Communities of Interest (COIs), and Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to add to those that are currently a part of the Institute’s activities. Also, be on the lookout in the coming weeks for details of other important workshops and events. In particular, I would like to highlight a second call to researchers to bid for the Research and Knowledge Exchange (RAKE) funds, an initiative managed by ISBE. Remember too the opportunity to submit your academic papers to the International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research, (IJEBR), the journal aligned with the Institute. Further details of all of these initiatives and activities will be announced on the ISBE website ( Your team at ISBE are Lynn O’Byrne, Communications and Membership Administrator and Rob Edwards, Head of Marketing; they’ll be in touch with you regularly throughout the year.

This year’s conference will take place in Belfast on November 8th and 9th, preceded on the 7th with our ever-popular Doctoral Day and will be hosted by the Ulster University Business School and Dundalk Institute of Technology. Calls for abstracts will be announced in the coming weeks and following a review of research tracks undertaken following the Paris conference, please be on the lookout for details. Those Research Tracks will continue to be reviewed during 2017 and members’ views sought so that the conference continues to be relevant and current in terms of focus and outlook.

ISBE is your Institute and it is your contributions to, and support of, the work of ISBE that will identify it as a leading community and network of educators and researchers in entrepreneurship, small business practitioners and policy makers, informing the research agenda and policy debate around entrepreneurship and SME development in the UK and indeed beyond. I would urge members to reflect on ways they can help the Board in this enterprise to build the Institute’s profile and impact in 2017.

May I wish you a successful 2017 in finding ways to behave unreasonably and to challenge the status quo in ways that add value to people’s lives, including your own.

Pauric McGowan
Professor Pauric McGowan, Ph.D. FMII, FRSA; FHEA
President of the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Ulster University Business School



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