The one where the plot thickens…and I ask for help

You may have got from my first post (it was there in the subtext) that I am experiencing a little anxiety about my research project. The project is a 10,000 word dissertation, fully researched and referenced. I do love that in a piece of work that is supposedly mine, that my opinion has no input whatsoever – unless it’s cited I can’t say a word!!

Also, I must say as an aside I would never make an academic. The reasons for this are numerous, but the primary one it seems my surname is far too prosaic – Jones. The bunch I seem to end up reading have weird and wonderful surnames which makes writing any bibliography a chore. If your name is Smith or Davies – please, get into academia, quickly!

The most difficult hurdle so far has been choosing a topic to research for the aforementioned. You have the WHOLE of occupational psychology and with frustrations about how specific an academic research question has to be aside, that is a whole lot of ‘stuff’ to choose from.

So what have I chosen?

Entrepreneurship. Specifically internal entrepreneurs (aka Intrapreneurs or Corporate Entrepreneurs). If you say entrepreneur to most people they think of Branson, The Dragons or god help us all sur’Alan … but my interest is not in these people. I am interested in those who achieve as entrepreneurs but within a corporate setting. They have launched businesses within businesses or they have launched whole new product or service areas. They have structures, processes, constraints, budgets, teams, governance and most critically for my project – bosses!

Which brings me to the source my of current highest anxiety… where the hell do I find people who are achieving as Corporate Entrepreneurs (you may see where this is going) if only there was a way to speak to people who knew people who knew other people – some form of network… If I could tell them what I was looking for and see if they knew anyone who would be prepared to be interviewed…

So (and this is the call to action folks) can I ask (ever so politely) that you have a think about the people you know and if any of them strike you as meeting these criteria – they have achieved as entrepreneurs, in a corporate environment, ideally working at Senior Management level PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let me know… I would only want to interview them and may there even be a beer/glass of wine/mojito (delete as appropriate) for those who help (that’s the incentive bit)

Yours sincerely etc



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12 responses to “The one where the plot thickens…and I ask for help

  1. It might be worth looking at companies that follow Hamel or Mintzberg’s theory of strategy, as these companies nurture, support & encourage the Internal/Corporate Entrepreneurs.

    However, off the top of my head (and not working in the corporate world) I can’t name any such companies….but it’s a starter for 10!

    • Karen – thanks for this but am focussing on the relationship between the entrepreneur and their manager so am trying to avoid getting too much into the organizational whys

  2. How exciting, that brings memories. Your topic is also interesting.
    I Don’t have network of people of this sort, sorry. Instead though here I my few notes which might will help.
    OK I suppose you will find bunch of people in your network who could help you to get in touch with these talents. Choosing Interviews for sourcing of data is wise as you can do qualitative research which is not that dependent on huge number of research population.
    Few questions popping into my mind which you might have asked yourself already:
    Did you do any preliminary research/reading?
    Literature review?
    Did you establish research objective; research question; or hypothesis?
    Finally three things which you should keep in your mind throughout your research:
    1. Reliability
    2. Validity
    3. Generalisability
    What is your deadline?

    ps: Writing blog on side of your project is a brilliant idea for many reasons. You can ask for help and feedback but mainly self-reflecting on your progress. Well done, I hope you will keep us updated Rob.


    • Peter, thanks for your comments. As you correctly identified I am taking a qualitative approach to this and will be using an original interview which aside from a few tests on internal volunteers will have to stand on it’s own two feet in terms of reliability and validity. I will be using a critical incident approach to the interview followed by template analysis which if I get my a-priori coding tight should help control for interviewer bias.

      I have already submitted both literature review and research question and have had tutor feedback so thankfully that bits largely done!

      • That is great Rob, I see you covered every step of conducting research so far and have an excellent knowledge of research methods. I will be watching your blog in case you will be looking for any other help.

  3. Andrea

    Talk to a tutor or someone about opinion. It is all about your thoughts and you can disagree with cited work, you just have to have a good reason.

    The whole point is to take existing stuff cited and use it to build a platform that you push from, not just to say oh look here is what other people said …

    The stuff you can use as foundations are: citeable work, fresh data, all tied together with lashings of logic. You can also use one bit of cited work to smash a second bit into more useful chunks.

    • Andrea – your comment’s been very helpful. I find academic writing VERY difficult (compared with practioner style) so will save your comment as a pointer to my broader thinking!

  4. Hey Rob – I may know some people who can help. We have a very entrepreneurial culture – will have a think and dm you.

    Great blog!

  5. Ruth

    I work in an engineering firm with a strong focus and investment on R&D and a core “value” of innovation. Innovation is a driving factor discussed at both Board levels and is strongly encouraged. As a highly decentralised organisation, innovation and collaboration between Group companies is increasingly encouraged and facilitated. I’m not sure where the line between “entrepreneurship” and “innovation” blurs, or how R&D fits into entrepreneurship. Does entrepreneurship focus on the individual’s role in the organisation? How is it encouraged (or even discouraged)? Those people in our R&D teams have developed some exciting products and OEM products in a collaborative way, and I wonder where the line changes to entrepreneurship? Maybe I don’t know the answer, but you do, and maybe you’ve got your definition of entrepreneurship knuckled down? In which case, ignore me I suppose!!

  6. Mole

    Going to start by wishing you well – I’m trying to do a Masters in Computing, so I understand a bit of your pain!

    I recommend the following books to help you get organised and plan out your project (also help with the writing):

    I would recommend using LinkedIn to find potential candidates – there are a lot of people there that would fit your criteria, and I’m sure that you could very quickly find the right sort of people. There are a couple that I am linked to that might fit the bill.

    You could also set up a brief survey and use that to identify possible candidates – then post the link on Twitter etc.

    Best of luck

  7. Kirsty Walden

    Jonesy, do you still need interviewees? I could hook you up with someone at British Gas who fits the description of the sort of person you’re looking for. If you’re interested drop me an email and I’ll link the two of up on linkedin. K x

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