gender, gap, narrative, rootbind, lianne, taylor

Shifting the Gender Gap to an ‘All Differences Matter’ Narrative

This article purposefully shifts the narrative that disadvantages female entrepreneurs to a focus on entrepreneurial differences in thinking, traits and behaviour of successful business leaders. It provides insight and suggestions from research to encourage a more inclusive approach to starting and building a business that both genders can adopt in order to play with their strengths.

20th Century thinking that focuses on entrepreneurial gender differences have been changing. However, the latest 2017/18 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor research report stated that female entrepreneurship is up by only 6% globally and that males are still more likely to start businesses than women. The reasons for this difference is dominated by social economic positioning, however female entrepreneurs still face two pervasive ‘false truths’. Firstly, the most persistent challenge female entrepreneurs encounter is the narrative that they have wholly different characteristics to their male counterparts. The notion that men take risks, prefer direct conflict and confrontation and women don’t, is flawed with little empirical evidence. Secondly, are the ‘male-normative’ definitions of overconfident, aggressive risk takers that dominate research and populous media while female entrepreneurs battle to shift the paradigms that judge them against this group. The gap in higher male and lower female business start-up is due to these ingrained perceptions rather than lower female entrepreneurial orientation. Entrepreneurial men and women need to build an ecosystem that breaks across gendered business practices by considering cross gendered strengths and weaknesses for start-up and business growth.

The latest 2017/18 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor research report stated that female entrepreneurship is up by only 6% globally and that males are still more likely to start businesses than women.

Is there a consistent entrepreneurial profile?

Both genders can benefit from the fact that research on a consistent entrepreneurial profile does not exist. Research identified three categories that lead to the failure of studies to reach a consensus on the individual entrepreneurial traits. These three distinctive camps are:

• Inadequate methodologies focusing only on personality;

• Economic explanations of entrepreneurial behaviour;

• Cognitive causes of entrepreneurial behaviour. 

Mitchell et al.1 (2007) argued that any entrepreneurial perception and thinking processes should take place within a context, because an entrepreneur is constantly communicating and interacting with the business. Instead of categorising the study,  individual entrepreneurs should focus on the interactive relationship with their work context. In this way, the social-economic aspects for women, such as child care, affect their decision-making.

Entrepreneurs tend to have an internal locus of control, and search for answers within themselves while other professional groups are more likely to consider the outside world first to support their decisions.

There is enough psychological evidence that personality is stable throughout life, while behaviour and thinking processes can change. Thankfully, one can choose to act as an extrovert or introvert, irrespective of gender. You might be asking yourself: ‘If the business agenda was not historically set by men, would attributes regarded as ‘male-only’ still be valued, visible and identifiable?’ Many of these attributes assigned to males are context specific in decision-making and is critical to this debate.

Transitioning from gendered specific dialogue to understanding ourselves – strengths and weaknesses, fears and ambitions – will lead to a more successful integration between self and strategy; and risk and reward.  Successful start-up and healthy business growth requires a strategy and a mindful approach to what you attribute those successes to.  What is your business philosophy – does winning at business involve fighting or victory? Chu2 (2007) argued that most people prefer a win-win. In order to understand what drives your own decision-making, ask yourself the following questions:

• Cognition – what does success look like to you?

• What do you attribute that success to?

• When you are successful, what thoughts need to be changed or sustained?

By going through this process, the psychological concepts of locus of control will build confidence by reinforcing accurate reasons behind your actions and avoid biases. Entrepreneurs tend to have an internal locus of control, and search for answers within themselves while other professional groups are more likely to consider the outside world first to support their decisions.  Entrepreneurial success is defined by your interrelationships and interactions which can be developed by all individuals.

interactive, discussion, entrepreneurship, research

EPOC: How your skills as a research scientist are useful in business

On the 15th March, we’re delighted to host Dr. Lianne Taylor for an interactive discussion on how your skills as a research scientist are useful in business and entrepreneurship.

Dr Lianne Taylor will present her own entrepreneurial research, practical experience and academic benchmarking to help your own decision-making, risk awareness, biases and opportunity recognition as you consider the next steps with your ideas and innovations.

The talk will be followed by a networking session with food and drinks.

Dr Lianne Taylor is Chartered Organizational psychologist, business founder, author and Academic. Her experience and research expertise includes organizational behaviour, entrepreneurship and enterprise, cognition, systems thinking, succession, organizational plasticity and growth. Lianne ran her own organic beauty product business with international distribution and manufacturing. She later worked as a Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director (Centre for Enterprise Development and Research), Course leader MBA Qatar and MSc Entrepreneurial Management. Lord Ashcroft International Business School, Cambridge. Presently, she is undertaking research on Entrepreneurial Capital and Succession for a technology company based in Cambridge and is Academic Supervisor for The Judge Business School on their PG Diploma in Entrepreneurship. Lianne’s current business is a global think tank called

creating, culture, innovation, enterprise

Talk on Creating a Culture of Innovation and Enterprise

Dr. Lianne Taylor will be co-delivering a talk entitled “Creating a Culture of Innovation and Enterprise” with Claire Johnsen, St John’s Innovation Centre, for the Chinese Guangdong Provincial Committee Organization Department Green, Circular, and Low-carbon Development, on the 1st August.

about, us, rootbind, cognitive

Anglia Ruskin Learning and Teaching Conference

Lianne Taylor will be speaking at the Anglia Ruskin Learning and Teaching Conference with Claire Johnsen from the St John’s Innovation Centre on 27th June entitled “Students and Lecturers as Co-Creators of Enterprise in the Race Against Job Automation”.

female, entrepreneurs, rootbind, the, conversation, article, news

Female entrepreneurs and the curse of ‘male-only’ business attributes

Female entrepreneurs and the curse of ‘male-only’ business attributes

In theory, the world of entrepreneurship should be gender-blind. Start-up businesses are judged on whether they survive or die, and you might have thought that the same stark definition was applied to entrepreneurs themselves. But the discussion around how business people operate in this bruising arena has struggled to detach itself from broader stereotyping around sex – and it is starting to wear thin.

Camels, tigers and unicorns – a panel debate at St Johns Innovation Centre, Cambridge

Camels, tigers and unicorns – a panel debate at St Johns Innovation Centre, Cambridge

A book title with animals conjures up immediate perceptions of characteristics that business must reflect in order to be categorised as one of these. At the event held at St John’s Innovation Centre this week, the authors explained the rationale behind it in the context of investment and commercialisation of technology. Uday Phadke and Shailendra Vyakarnam introduced their theoretical framework based on empirical data on Chasm I, II and III. They identified Chasm one as transitioning from product or service to working prototype, Chasm II the transition to fully functional product or service with a sustainable business model and Chasm III the move from early adopters to upscaling with a larger number of customers.

After introductions, the floor was swiftly opened for questions from entrepreneurs, researchers and interested parties. There were several key questions that the panel, Chaired by David Gill, and consisting of the authors; Bryan Amesbury (Co-Founder & COO, SwiftServe); Clifford Dive (Strategic Technical Innovation Consultant) and Dr Lianne Taylor, (Rootbind), attempted to answer stimulating an enjoyable debate:

• Why is talent and leadership considered less important in Chasm I?

• How does one analyse what happened in previous Chasms when the business has moved into the next?

• How does a business work out which Chasm they are in?

• All that data is fine but how do academics engage with businesses to transfer this knowledge?

Six key messages to draw out from the panel discussion are:

• Identifying the Chasm for your business will help to reduce uncertainty;

• Moving to the next Chasm is not a linear process – business do not move neatly through different stages of growth, they iterate and assess constantly;

• Depending on the technology and external circumstances, regression into previous Chasms is possible;

Growth definitions are not restricted to sales numbers, the quality and smaller numbers providing higher value are significant;

• That academics can do better at engaging with business, and events like this contribute to real knowledge transfer;

• That assessing which Chasm a business is in can be challenging, but engaging in debate and getting external help is available. Where the business gets the most valuable help from is dependant on its growth stage and size.

Many important issues related to entrepreneurial business growth in science and technology led businesses were not covered due to lack of time. Crucially, the debate highlighted the massive ‘Chasm’ that exists, and the important nature of bridging the gap between academic research and entrepreneurs, through use of accessible discourse and business led needs.

A talk on 'Entrepreneurial versus Managerial Mindset’ for Enterprise WISE programme

A talk on ‘Entrepreneurial versus Managerial Mindset’ for Enterprise WISE programme

Coming up 6th May – Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge.

Delivering a talk on ‘Entrepreneurial versus Managerial Mindset’ for Enterprise WISE programme.

rootbind, dr, lianne, miller, taylor

High growth technology businesses discussion

Coming up 20th May – St John’s innovation Centre, Cambridge

Taking part in a panel discussion around high growth technology businesses, their drivers and barriers.

Entrepreneurial, paradox, news, lianne, miller, rootbind

The release of ‘The Entrepreneurial Paradox’

British Academy of Management (BAM) news release

January 2017 The release of ‘The Entrepreneurial Paradox, the interplay between Entrepreneurial and Management thinking’ to colleagues at the British Academy of Management

business, people

How to be entrepreneurial

Thinking about experience…

People have a preconception that successful entrepreneurs start a business with an innovative idea, gut instinct and determination.  But look closely and you will see many successful founders who started their journey as employees.  So, what does this tell us about how to be entrepreneurial? Research into trait theory has proven to be inconsistent and inconclusive with no single profile that captures the diversity in personality.  In contrast, an insatiable thirst for learning followed by autonomous action separates this group from their peers.

A few years of working with entrepreneurs proves that putting learning and experience into practice leads to transformative business ideas.   Many successful entrepreneurs have worked for other organizations directly or indirectly in their area of expertise long before start-up phase.  Learning how business operates and building a network of strong relationships before launch are the first steps to being entrepreneurial.  Experience lays the foundation in the brain for new patterns and ideas to formulate.  This might defy the rationale of ‘diving’ in, but mitigating risk underpins entrepreneurial decision-making.