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Creating an entrepreneurial nation


Creating an entrepreneurial nation
5 July 2005

How do we go about creating an entrepreneurial nation? Strategists, industry practitioners and scholars will be gathering at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on 7-8 July to tease out the crucial elements of entrepreneurial success at Waikato Management School's international research conference on enterprise and innovation.

"Successful enterprise and innovation are at the heart of the School's purpose," declares Waikato Management School dean Mike Pratt. "One of our core commitments is research and education to assist entrepreneurs to turn ideas into businesses."

Keynote speakers at the conference will bring insights into the challenges and opportunities of entrepreneurial growth from across the OECD nations, Ireland and the USA.

Sergio Arzeni is director of the OECD's new Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development. He'll discuss best practices from initiatives around the globe that promote entrepreneurship, SME growth and local economic and employment development.

Kevin Thompstone, CEO of Ireland's Shannon Development, will focus on how to make high-level policy a practical reality for people and places, drawing on his firsthand experience of turning a poor, rural region of south-western Ireland into a knowledge-based globally competitive regional economy.

One of the world's leading strategy scholars, Professor Jay Barney of The Ohio State University will be looking at the entrepreneur as discoverer and creator, and the different policy implications of these two roles.

"With such high calibre international keynote presenters and an excellent series of panels and research presentations, this is going to be a great forum for anyone interested in how to position New Zealand businesses and products at the cutting edge," says Professor Delwyn Clark, Waikato Management School's director of research and conference organiser.

There will be two discussion panels, one on the role of enterprise and innovation in regional economic development and the second on creating an entrepreneurial nation. The keynote speakers will be joined by senior officials from MED and NZTE, and by Graham Smith, CEO of Katolyst, the new Waikato development agency.

Peter Biggs, chair of Creative New Zealand, and "serial entrepreneur" Melissa Clark-Reynolds, CEO of Hamilton-based company INTAZ, will also contribute to the panel discussions.

Over two days, 34 speakers will present papers analysing topics such as cluster development, knowledge creation, organisational culture, innovative practices, policy and strategy, and the environmental factors that foster and catalyse enterprise and innovation.

Other papers will look at women in enterprise, family businesses, the innovative role business can play in human rights, and the impact of copyright laws on enterprise and innovation


7-8 JULY 2005


Keeping it in the family
Tensions in family firms can tear the business apart. But by recognising and managing times of transition, researchers say family business leaders can minimise tension and preserve the firm.

Professor Mary Barrett of Wollongong University’s Graduate School of Business and Professional Development says all firms go through a life cycle, but in family businesses there are the added complications of generational change. She and Professor Ken Moores of the Australian Centre for Family Business at Bond University looked at how a group of successful family businesses in Australia manage that change.

“Owners of successful family firms learn business, learn to run their own business, learn how to lead their business and learn to let go of that business,” says Barrett.

“Planning for these four stages can help to build trust which is essential for breaking the cycle of conflict. And it’s also important to integrate the next generation into the family firm, so that knowledge and information can be successfully transferred.”

Barrett says there’s often a trade-off between conflict over tasks and processes and relationship conflict. “Having more people involved in the business can mean decisions take longer to reach. But if control is concentrated at the top, then the family firm is more likely to fail because the new generation won’t have the skills or the interest to take over.”

Mary Barrett is presenting her paper “Understanding tensions and conflict: A phase of learning approach for leading family business” (co-authored with Ken Moores) at the E&I research conference in Hamilton on Friday 8 July

Trend to longer copyright protection not good for New Zealand
How can New Zealand best protect the intellectual property of its innovators? Not by joining the world trend towards extending the term of copyright protection, argues Waikato University law lecturer Anna Kingsbury.

While the USA, the EU and Australia have all moved to extend the term of copyright protection following the death of the author from 50 to 70 years, Kingsbury says New Zealand stands to lose too much by following suit.

“Unlike the USA and the EU, New Zealand is overwhelmingly a net importer of culture and technology,” explains Kingsbury. “If we go for an extension of the copyright protection term, we’ll end up with higher net royalty outflows, higher education costs and less access to cultural and creative works. I can see no evidence that this will promote innovation and enterprise.”

Anna Kingsbury is presenting her paper “Terms of protection: Will extending the term of copyright protection in new Zealand law promote enterprise and innovation?” at the E&I research conference in Hamilton on Thursday 7 July

Linkage fosters innovation in biotech sector
Does the government's biotechnology strategy encourage innovation? Waikato Management School economist Dr Dan Marsh has analysed the strategy using data from two biotech surveys, and says policies aimed at fostering clustering, collaboration, and international and regional links are the out-and-out winners.

This kind of knowledge spillover, he says, is crucial for technological change and innovation. "Organisations that had alliances or inter-firm linkages had almost double the innovative output," says Marsh. "And I found that international alliances and alliances with firms were particularly important."

Dan Marsh is presenting his paper “Does government policy support innovation? The case of new Zealand’s biotechnology strategy” at the E&I research conference in Hamilton on Thursday 7 July

Champion or a shrimp? Risks and returns on innovation
Assessing what return you’ll get is vital for any firm contemplating an investment in innovation. But it’s notoriously difficult to quantify strategic and market risk for small-scale entrepreneurs.

Two researchers have been working on ways to categorise the returns generated by different types of innovations. Associate Professor Tim Mazzarol of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Management and Innovation at the University of Western Australia, and Professor Sophie Reboud of the Centre for Business Research (CEREN) in Dijon, France, looked at innovations in a group of small high-innovator firms in Western Australia, using analysis developed by CEREN.

“We classified the innovations into six categories: the Shrimp, the Champion, the Gadget, the Joker, the Lark Mirror and the Oasis,” explains Mazzarol. “These represent the different combinations of return, that is, volume of sales, rate (ie margin of profit) and length or life of the product in the market.”

Mazzarol says small firms with limited resources should opt for an Oasis-type innovation (low volume, high or low rate, high length). Larger firms may be able to cope with the production demands of the Champion (high volume, rate and length). But he says entrepreneurs should steer clear of the Shrimp (low volume, rate and length).

Mazzarol and Reboud’s research shows that firms which undergo a formal process of innovation and new product development pick more Champions and Oases. By contrast, Shrimps and Lark Mirrors (high volume, high or low rate, low length) tend to be developed in firms without such formal processes.

“This framework has been used in both France and Australia for assisting SMEs to make early evaluations of their innovations,” says Mazzarol. “We’ve found it helps firms better evaluate their innovations from a strategic perspective.

Tim Mazzarol is presenting his paper “An exploratory study of how small firms estimate the potential rent returns from investment in innovation” (co-authored with Sophie Reboud) at the E&I research conference in Hamilton on Thursday 7 July.

Doing good works and doing good business
Being a good global corporate citizen is no easy business. But Waikato Management School researcher Nicky Black has come up with a guide to this potential minefield.

“Increasingly, international organisations and governments are turning to the private sector in the battle against poverty and human rights abuses,” says Black. “And it makes good business sense for firms too. It can cripple a company if it’s seen as being complicit in any kind of environmental or human rights scandal.”

Black has drawn up a framework for understanding corporate action on human rights. She says there are two levels of involvement. First comes negative responsibility, where the focus is on preventing complicity in human rights violations. Black says examples include labour rights compacts, and guidelines for relationships with state security organs, such as the army or police.

Next is the level of positive responsibility, aimed at creating an environment for people to enjoy full human rights. “Corporate initiatives to deal with the HIV/AID pandemic are a good example of this,” says Black. “Companies such as DHL, Anglo American and Heineken International have set up education campaigns and health care programmes for employees. Other companies have worked with governments to support a national response to HIV/AIDS.”

Sustainable enterprise moves businesses even further into the area of human rights, into social and economic development. “Sustainable enterprise is the private sector counterpart to sustainable development, and it’s a fertile field for innovation,” says Black. “And that may have a knock-on impact bigger than anything we’ve seen so far.”

Nicky Black is presenting her paper “Innovative business action on human rights – Doing no harm, good works and good business” at the E&I research conference in Hamilton on Friday 8 July

Question time
It’s not what you ask, it’s the way that you ask it. That, according to Waikato Management School researcher Heather Bircham-Connolly, is the key to knowledge-sharing, which in turn is a pivotal part of innovation.

“Innovation encompasses divergent thinking and also exploring and combining the knowledge of many individuals,” explains Bircham-Connolly. “My research shows that communicating that knowledge depends crucially on how you ask the questions. People respond better, and learn more, from answers to directed or open-ended questions. Closed (yes-no) questions don’t have that effect.”

Bircham-Connolly’s findings suggest that innovation is more about asking expert questions than providing expert answers.

Heather Bircham-Connolly is presenting her paper “Recipient’s attitude towards shared knowledge: The influence of question structure” (co-authored with Jim Corner and Stephen Bowden) at the E&I research conference in Hamilton on Thursday 7 July.

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