Research & Business Lab Newsletter #3 - INTERVIEW

27 janvier 2017
Alistair’s way, or Entrepreneurship from a practitioner’s career to a research subject

Alistair Anderson is a professor of Entrepreneurship at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. His career is rich and diverse, but entrepreneurship is the guideline, either as a practitioner, or as a passionate academic researcher. He is the director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at Aberdeen Business School, and the editor of a leading European journal, Entrepreneurship and Regional Development. And the Business & Society researchers’ team here in Audencia have the honor to count him as a member of the International Affiliate Faculty.

Could you please introduce yourself?

I am very pleased to be part of the Audencia research team.  Working with my colleagues here is invigorating because we have many stimulating conversations. We share a concern for producing good research, but don’t always agree on how we should achieve this. Thus our discussions stimulate new ideas for us all. I suspect that this works so well largely because my visits force us to stop the everyday things that can overwhelm us, and allow us the space and time to consider the interesting things we want to know about.

I have always had a keen interest in entrepreneurship. First as a practitioner, I had a number of businesses ranging from pubs, through quality knitwear manufacturing to building houses. However, my wife is now the entrepreneur in the family. Twenty-five years ago, I began to formalize my curiosity about entrepreneurship with a PhD. Nowadays I remain passionate about trying to understand the phenomenon. I am director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at Aberdeen Business School and edit a leading European journal, Entrepreneurship and Regional Development. I research and publish about entrepreneurship generally, but have a specific interest in the social side of entrepreneuring. So I find things like networking and social capital fascinating. I have been fortunate in that my research interests turned out to be quite publishable. I have over a hundred articles in a variety of journals and seem to be well cited with over 7,500 Google Scholar citations.  I am also a member of several entrepreneurship journal editorial boards and serve on several international Peer Review Colleges.  I continue to enjoy theorizing about entrepreneurship to help improve our understanding of the phenomenon.  

What is the story between you and Audencia Business School?

I have always enjoyed France, (especially tasting the food!) and had lots of connections with French academics. Indeed, I supervised a couple of French PhD students. However, I first encountered Miruna Radu Lefebvre through her work. She had published a great paper about French public perceptions of entrepreneurs in the International Small Business Journal, in 2008, “The Social Representation of Entrepreneurs in the French Press Desirable and Feasible Models?”. I was working on a similar theme, but in the UK press. I had also met Claire Champenois at conferences and realized that there were lots of interesting things going on at Audencia, and that we shared interests! When I had the opportunity to speak at the French Academy of Entrepreneurship Conference in 2015, I got to know the group. So I was delighted when I received an invitation to join Audencia as international faculty!

Can you tell us about the ongoing collaborations with Audencia researchers?

I can offer a good example of the synergy generated by having a space and time for reflection. During my first formal visit, we were discussing the themes in our various research when Sébastien Ronteau insightfully noted that we were all interested in entrepreneurship as a practice. This was a very novel way of looking at our work, and entrepreneurship study generally. It prompted us to consider how this worked and how we could explain it. Sébastien and I now have a theoretical paper developing the early ideas due to be published in the Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies. Currently we have several publication projects in hand. I am working with Vincent Lefebvre on a paper about how entrepreneurs learn to network. Another project, which we hope will materialize as a couple of good papers for the group, is about the nature, the ‘familiness’ of family business. In short there are lots of interesting things coming together in our collaborations. For me this is a great opportunity for intellectual stimulation, but also to enjoy French gastronomy- what more could a man ask?

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