What’s the big story?

Entrepreneurs at a workshop spearheaded by YourStory.

Research in the entrepreneurship sector lags behind other valuable efforts

Since the IIMs were first set up in Kolkata and Ahmedabad in 1961, they have come a long way with a presence today in 13 locations. From research to a variety of management education options, the IIMs continue to hold a place of respect for many of us here. Barely has any of my conversations with entrepreneurs in recent times gone by without a mention of this historically revered group of institutions. Academic institutions the world over are beneficial not just for delivering education but for the research they carry out and the valuable insights they present in diverse studies and reports.

Traditionally, urban Indians have hankered after IIM programmes to give them an edge in the talent market. And now many entrepreneurs across age groups are doing so.

But is the entrepreneurial community in India being served adequately by research efforts?

A CONCRETE NEED

Dane Stangler, Director of Research & Policy at Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation says, “There is an expanding number of experiments taking place in entrepreneurship education and training around the world — lots of new programmes and attempts to spur entrepreneurship in many countries. By definition, however, it is not really an experiment if there isn't feedback and lessons learned and the application of those lessons to the next round. So at a programmatic level, research helps improve programmes that will help entrepreneurs. At a broader level, every country needs better research on entrepreneurship to inform policymaking so they don't make decisions that ultimately harm entrepreneurs”.

THE RECENT PAST

Harvard Business Publishing (HBP) has distributed indigenous case studies of IIMB since 2011. HBP also features the likes of Kellogg Graduate School of Management and Stanford Graduate School of Business. But, out of the 50-odd IIMB case studies distributed so far, not many have focused on entrepreneurship, although the case studies are no doubt valuable. IIMB’s joint research projects with the Richard IVEY School of Business don’t have enough to do with the start-up sector either.

Although the IIMs and most other popular business schools in India do have entrepreneurship cells and special initiatives or programmes catering to the start-up sector, research efforts seem to be lagging behind. This isn’t criticism, just a zooming-in on the opportunity available through channels such as Harvard Business Publishing. Why not let the world know our story through esteemed platforms already available to us? NextBigWhat, a platform focused on tech entrepreneurs and the digital sector, is a force to reckon with in its space, although there seems to be a lack of original research carried out by the platform. Is there an opportunity here?

INDEPENDENT EFFORTS

YourStory was a pioneering endeavour in the start-up sector. From a close observation of the platform, it is clear that YourStory continues to cover more ground than others in highlighting trends and developments in the Indian start-up sector, besides carrying out primary and secondary research.

About 12 months ago, Madanmohan Rao joined YourStory as Research Director. “In India, we manage to be local and global at the same time. However, we live in a different reality with all the issues that persist as far as infrastructure or other factors go.

Convincing Indian companies to buy new products developed by Indian small businesses or entrepreneurs continues to be a challenge, but we’re so fast on the uptake with mobile and platforms. Publishing cycles at many institutes continue to be at lesser frequencies – so the knowledge and information gap continue,” he sums up on the year gone by. Does the start-up sector need more players that differentiate themselves in the area of research and yet contribute to a significant gap in these times? What’s India’s big story?

(The author is an independent journalist.)

Published on October 20, 2013
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