Dr. Lorraine Warren is a Professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Massey University in New Zealand. She has a mature research position with over 60 peer-reviewed publications on entrepreneurial identity, technology transfer, small business management and the creative industries/digital media.
Entrepreneurship takes place in a social and historical context. It isn’t something that just takes place in isolation, in the same way, achieving the same things, all around the world. It is affected by different factors; place for example. It is likely to be much easier to get a new business up running if you’re close to others doing the same thing than if you’re out on your own. That’s why so much effort has been spent on creating clusters, not just in hi-tech (who’s not heard of Silicon Valley?) but in many other more traditional sectors too, such as textiles, furniture and marble.
Clusters enable people to meet, hire smart staff ready to hit the ground running, keep up with latest developments and thus remain competitive. And of course, there is the possibility now of virtual connection, where people in remote areas can connect via the Internet.
Place isn’t the only contextual factor that’s important though; different economic structures around finance, and employment and trading law also influence enterprise and entrepreneurial processes. Other factors are cultural,where what it means ‘to be an entrepreneur’ can vary enormously – look at China to see how that has changed in the last decade or so. Being an entrepreneur is never easy, and context can be an asset to benefit from, or a difficulty that you need overcome. Entrepreneurship can play such an important role in regional and national development, so it’s important that we have good understandings of the challenges as well as the opportunities.
And it’s not just about what we do as entrepreneurs ourselves. It’s about how we learn from others, in developing our own businesses and also entrepreneurial communities. We know we like to run with ‘what works’! But ‘what works’ is usually dependent on a complicated mix of contextual factors. So the more we know about context and entrepreneurship, he better.