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Kiwis Finally Embracing Entrepreneurs


Kiwis Finally Embracing Entrepreneurs, Says New Marketing Professor

Entrepreneurs are finally gaining wider acceptance in New Zealand, according to The University of Auckland’s first professor in Marketing and International Entrepreneurship.

Professor Nicole Coviello is no stranger to the University, having lectured there from 1989 to 1996. She completed her PhD in Marketing and International Business at the University in 1994.

A native of Canada holding New Zealand citizenship, Professor Coviello says that after six years away at the University of Calgary she’s noticed a significant change in the attitudes of New Zealanders to entrepreneurs.

“In the past, support for entrepreneurship was lacking because it didn’t seem to suit the New Zealand psyche. Entrepreneurs were criticized for standing up, doing their own thing, and changing the rules of the game. That didn’t fit with some New Zealand values in spite of the nation’s inherent talent for innovation.”

With the concept of entrepreneurship struggling for acceptance, it wasn’t surprising that the notion of teaching entrepreneurship also struggled for support, says Professor Coviello.

“There were efforts to try and develop courses in entrepreneurship, but they never really got off the ground. Until relatively recently, it wasn’t fully accepted to study or research entrepreneurship other than perhaps small business activities. However, entrepreneurship goes well beyond small firms, and is integral to successful marketing and internationalisation efforts.”

Professor Coviello saw evidence of this in her study of the New Zealand software industry in the early 1990s.

“I saw some amazing examples of entrepreneurial activity, opportunistic risk takers who were proactive and broke most of the textbook rules in terms of developing their international markets. Their growth levels clearly outstripped firms following more traditional approaches, and they were very successful. I’m confident we’ll see more and more of that.”

She also believes New Zealanders now understand that to be an entrepreneur with a ‘mover and shaker’ mentality is a positive force, and that entrepreneurship is relevant to many different types of organisations. For example, Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup success has raised awareness of the catalytic role of entrepreneurs in projects that benefit the wider community.

Professor Coviello returned to Auckland last month to fill the new chair created on the recommendation of a panel of international experts following a scheduled review of the Marketing Department.

Her teaching and research encompasses the fields of marketing, entrepreneurship and international business and her work in all three areas has been widely published in international journals.

She is a two-time winner of the American Marketing Association/Coleman Foundation Award for research at the Marketing/Entrepreneurship Interface and has garnered several other research awards. With her University of Auckland colleague, Professor Rod Brodie, she co-founded the Contemporary Marketing Practices (CMP) research programme, an international study involving researchers in North and South America, Europe and Australasia.

Alongside her PhD from The University of Auckland, Professor Coviello holds BComm Honours (Marketing) and MSc (Technology Management) degrees from the University of Saskatchewan.

After lecturing at the University of Waikato for two years and The University of Auckland for eight, she joined the Faculty of Management at the University of Calgary in 1996 as Associate Professor. She was most recently Head of the Marketing Area at Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, one of the Financial Times global Top-100 MBA schools.

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