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“Incubated entrepreneurs”: a study into the everyday experiences of business incubation through a micro-sociological lens

Lanham-New, William (2020) “Incubated entrepreneurs”: a study into the everyday experiences of business incubation through a micro-sociological lens Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey.

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Business incubation has grown in popularity over recent decades. Reviewing the incubation literature revealed that little attention had been paid to the experiences of the incubated entrepreneurs (the human dimension) themselves or to the social aspects (the social dimension) of the incubation process. This was identified as a significant gap in the literature, given the intense nature of the incubation experience for entrepreneurs and its potential implications for their business development. To explore this neglected ‘social dimension’ of incubation, the Thesis utilised a provisional theoretical framework derived from micro-sociology (Interaction Ritual Chain Theory, Impression Management and Framing) to capture the contextual, interpersonal and individual levels of incubator experience. This framework was operationalised through a qualitative/ethnographic investigation using semi-structured interviews, overt-observations and Participant-Led Photography within three business incubator sites which were part of a larger incubator organisation. The unit of analysis and focus of this research was the incubatee (the entrepreneur) within the incubator setting. As such 21 entrepreneurs were purposively sampled across these incubators. The resulting data analysis was informed partly by questions deriving from the theoretical framework and partly by an openness to emergent themes and issues generated inductively from the data. The findings revealed across all three incubator sites that organisational practices, especially around membership and spatial layout, created barriers to social interaction. Where intense energy forming interaction was observed among members, it tended to be in small working groups in co-located working spaces. Organisational practices to stimulate social engagement proved relatively ineffective. The research findings provide important insights into business incubation’s social aspect, thereby advancing the limited extant knowledge in this area and extending existing understandings about entrepreneurs’ everyday incubator lives. The value this research brings to existing knowledge and literature on entrepreneurship and incubation is that, for the first known time, the views of the participants (the incubated entrepreneurs 5 themselves), has been inductively captured as they journey the incubation process in a rich and meaningful way. Thus, the research contributes to theory by advancing and adapting detailed understanding of Collins’ (2004) model of Interaction Ritual Chain Theory (Collins, 2004). It also adds to methodological understanding of inductive approaches, particularly regarding the adoption of Participant-Led-Photography in entrepreneurship research. Its contribution to practice is to recognise for the first-time incubator social dynamics that can impact entrepreneurs, particularly within an incubator setting.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Lanham-New, William
Date : 28 February 2020
Funders : SBS
DOI : 10.15126/thesis.00853728
Depositing User : William Lanham-New
Date Deposited : 06 Mar 2020 14:19
Last Modified : 06 Mar 2020 14:20

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