Facilitating collaborative entrepreneurship within an SME network

Akhurst, Colin (2021) Facilitating collaborative entrepreneurship within an SME network. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

Colin Akhurst PhD Thesis published_Final version_Submitted Dec 2020_Final Award Nov 2021.pdf - Accepted Version

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Facilitating collaborative entrepreneurship within an SME network Miles et al (2005) describe collaborative entrepreneurship (CE) as an “organisation” composed of firms from different industries, whose collaborative abilities allow them to pursue a joint strategy of continuous innovation. Franco and Haase (2013) define it as “the creation of something of economic value arising out of new, jointly created ideas that emerge from the sharing of information and knowledge” (p. 681).

The success of small and micro businesses is pivotal to the success of the world’s market economies. The adoption of the CE model in the context of small and micro businesses, who often lack the resources to develop products, would seem logical, but this remains an under-researched field. The current study used an action research approach with the researcher’s business as a partner organisation in a collaborative venture and the researcher operating as facilitator. This study used a social capital theory perspective to understand the changing relationships, and how facilitation adapts to maintain knowledge transfer in a network of small and micro owner/managed business, as they use a collaborative entrepreneurial model to innovate products and services for the spray-tanning industry.

The study was conducted in a network of five business based in the UK, USA and India. Three of the businesses were actively involved in a traditional supply chain with the others becoming involved in response to changing market conditions.

Data was collected in a series of field diaries was over a 24-month period with sources including day to day business activities, formal and informal meetings, telephone calls and the researcher’s reflections.

The qualitative thematic analysis revealed different issues at different points in the life cycle of a collaborative entrepreneurship venture alongside insights into how potential challenges were addressed through facilitation.

Phase 1 – transforming – as new members were integrated into the group issues of trust related to the structure of the network and information silos were highlighted. An appreciative inquiry intervention was used to address these issues.

Phase 2 – stabilisation – deals with how the network managed innovation both in and outside the network. Maintaining momentum became a challenge as sales plateaued. Dialogue within the action research group that addressed issues of degeneration highlighted how tensions were managed.

The final phase – addressed issues of readiness and legacy and how the network was maintained as innovation slowed within the network and out-of-network innovation accelerated. Reduced contact among group members revealed differences in individual perceptions of the psychological contract developed during the collaboration and strategies were developed to ensure the network remained ready to collaborate and innovate as market demands dictated.

The study contributes to the theory of collaborative entrepreneurship within a small and micro business context through the use of a dynamic approach to self-facilitation with the role of facilitator rotating among the group members based on relevant skill and knowledge.

The study contributes to current knowledge of facilitation of small business networks and the use of appreciative inquiry methods in small groups.

A model of the dynamic nature of a collaborative entrepreneurship venture among small and micro businesses and the role that action learning can play, was developed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
15 December 2020Submitted
22 November 2021Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: collaborative entrepreneurship, SME, micro businesses, facilitation, small business networks, appreciative inquiry
Subjects: CAH17 - business and management > CAH17-01 - business and management > CAH17-01-01 - business and management (non-specific)
CAH17 - business and management > CAH17-01 - business and management > CAH17-01-02 - business studies
CAH17 - business and management > CAH17-01 - business and management > CAH17-01-09 - others in business and management
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > Birmingham City Business School > Centre for Applied Finance and Economics
Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > Birmingham City Business School
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2022 08:46
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2023 11:48
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13300

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