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And The Award for Best Entrepreneurship Professor Goes To

By  Sian Morley-Smith

Wed Jan 27 2010

If there were an Oscars ceremony to recognise excellence in the field of entrepreneurship then Prof. Mike Wright from Nottingham University Business School would need to make a whole lot of space on his mantle piece.

This December news article taken from Nottingham Universities’ Business School news website shows that when it comes to learning the do’s and don'ts of entrepreneurial venture, that NUBS provides it’s students with a superstar lecturer:

Three distinguished international accolades have been awarded to Professor Mike Wright — Director of the Centre for Management Buy-out Research and Professor of Financial Studies at Nottingham University Business School — for his exceptional contributions to the study of entrepreneurship.

The Academy of Management’s Entrepreneurship Division named him this year’s recipient of its Mentor Award, which recognises, supports, encourages and honors exceptional mentoring activities at all educational levels in the field of entrepreneurship. It also named him ‘Best Editorial Board Reviewer’ in its Education and Learning Division.

Next, Professor Wright was invited to become the only non US-based ‘21st Century Entrepreneurial Fellow’, joining a group of just 12 scholars created by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) in 2001 to advance the global cause of entrepreneurship research throughout the scholarly community. A visiting professor at ERASMUS (Rotterdam School of Management), the University of Ghent, and EMLYON business schools and a former editor of the journal Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Mike was identified as an author of more published research — between 1995 and 2006 — than any other scholar in the field of entrepreneurship.

His interests include entrepreneurial finance (the Institute of Chartered Accountants commissioned him, with colleague John Gilligan, to write an influential guide, Private Equity Demystified); academic entrepreneurship and technology transfer; international entrepreneurship, investigating entrepreneurs who return to their countries; and serial entrepreneurs.

Professor Wright’s awards come at a time when the world is reeling from the effects of deep recession; when public and business confidence in banking and finance has fallen, and entrepreneurship is gaining the recognition it deserves as an engine of sustained economic growth and social cohesion. In the United States, since 1980, all net increases in jobs have come from businesses that are less than five years old.

The potential contributions universities and graduates can make to innovation, new business start-ups, academic entrepreneurship and a deeper understanding of enterprise development are being recognised by governments and business. Universities like Nottingham have developed highly entrepreneurial identities.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, whose Department is also responsible for universities, said recently in a speech to the CBI: “Over the last decade or so our expectations of the HE system in delivering economic impact have risen sharply — and rightly. Universities have responded to that willingly and actively.”

In the new strategy paper released this month by the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Higher Ambitions — The future of universities in a knowledge economy, entrepreneurship is identified as an essential quality of graduate employability. One of the strategy’s six sections is devoted to the importance of university research, innovation and knowledge exchange.

“Over my entire career I have sought to produce rigorous academic work that is also policy-relevant,” said Professor Wright. “It is wonderful symmetry that I should be nominated for these awards in the year this University celebrated being name the first Times Higher Education ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’.”

“The University of Nottingham has become very entrepreneurial over the last couple of decades through its Business School and the University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI). Many other Schools and research centres have had great success transferring knowledge to create new enterprises.”

Ronald K. Mitchell, Immediate Past Chair of the Academy of Management’s Entrepreneurship Division and Professor of Entrepreneurship at Rawls College of Business, Texas Tech University commented on Professor Wright’s success in winning the Academy of Management Entrepreneurship Division Mentor Award. “Mike Wright has, throughout his career, exemplified the qualities of a true mentor.

“He has been especially capable in the area of helping to identify promising doctoral students and post-doctoral candidates, encouraging their interest in the field of entrepreneurship research, nurturing their development in research and professional roles, and in providing moral, social, and intellectual support to new entrants to the field in the early stages of their careers.

“He is highly deserving of this most-prestigious award,” said Professor Mitchell.
Professor Wright was nominated by existing scholars in the 21st Century Entrepreneurial Fellows group who ‘advocated’ for his membership based on his research record and leadership in the field of entrepreneurship.

This is a relatively new group and Professor Wright has been invited to help formulate how they will encourage academic research in entrepreneurship. “It’s good to be in a position to formulate policy and direction at an early stage in the group’s existence,” said Professor Wright.

“Interest in entrepreneurship is increasing at undergraduate and masters level, but also among academic entrepreneurs not only in science but across The University of Nottingham,” he added. “A lot of work I’ve been doing has been looking at how one can make universities more entrepreneurial, injecting some realism to moderate the early optimism of some members of the academic community, especially with regard to access to finance.”

The official induction dinner for this open-ended appointment will take place during the 2010 Academy of Management Conference in Montréal, Canada, next summer. This story was originally published in the NUBS news website in December 2009.