Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship


Project Number: 2019-53

Project Leader: Nadeera Ranabahu

Host Department: Department of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship

Project Title: Scaling-up Social Enterprises: Strategies, Opportunities and Challenges

Project outline: Scaling-up social impact is one of the least understood areas in current social entrepreneurship literature.  Although not all social enterprises are scalable, models with institutionalised practices or structures that build lasting social systems are identified to be more scalable (Zahra et al. 2009). Organisations such as Skoll foundation also reward social entrepreneurial models which are scalable and can be replicated in multiple geographical locations.   In practice, enterprises scale-up by expanding, replicating, developing partnerships, or sharing knowledge (OECD 2016).  These processes require adapting business models and strategies to different geographical contexts (Corner and Kearins 2018). Theoretically, models such as SCALERS (i.e., staffing, communicating, alliance-building, lobbying, earnings generation, replicating, and stimulating market forces) (Bloom and Chatterji 2009) and dynamic capabilities (Corner and Kearins 2018) are used to explain the social enterprise scaling-up process.

This project aims to understand the process of scaling-up social enterprises further. The project attempts to answer the research question of: How do social enterprises scale-up their offerings, beyond the initial target group, to achieve widespread social impact?  This project uses multiple case study method to answer the research question and has three main phases:

Phase 1:  Preliminary literature review

During this phase, a review of key literature will be conducted to understand theoretical underpinnings of social-enterprise scale-up. The main purpose of the review is to differentiate commercial and social enterprise scale-up process.

Phase 2: Desk research

Using social enterprise awardees of Skoll foundation, 10 key social enterprises will be identified. Then, using publically available sources (websites, available blog posts, newspaper articles, social media profiles, etc.), profiles will be developed for each enterprise.

Phase 3: Thematic analysis

At this stage, using the profiles developed for each organisation, a thematic analysis will be conducted.

The student will be conducting a preliminary literature review using the library data bases, and will develop the organisational profiles. The organisations will be selected from Skoll foundation.  The foundation drives large-scale change by rewarding social enterprises and has publicly accessible data. The student will also be conducting an initial data analysis. The process of doing the data analysis will be explained. The selected student for the project is expected to produce a short report and the project leader will continue the project to develop a follow-up empirical study on scaling-up social enterprises. Further work by the project leader will result peer-reviewed publications in entrepreneurship-related conferences and journals.

Specific Requirements: This project is ideal for a student with social sciences background (specifically entrepreneurship, innovation, management or any other related discipline) and basic training in qualitative research methods. Students with interests in social entrepreneurship are highly encouraged to apply.

Excellent communication skills and good work ethics are essential for the role.



Project Number: 2019-131

Project Leader: Qingqing Bi & Cheryl Brown

Host Department: Management, Marketing & Entrepreneurship

Project Title: Cultivating entrepreneurs and innovators through connected learning: an exploration of connected learning approach in tertiary education

Project outline: This project intends to explore the application of connected learning theory in higher education and develop innovative pedagogies and teaching practices to foster university students entrepreneurial and innovative mindsets and capabilities.

Currently, most tertiary institutions are still using the traditional approach based on a reproduction model. Researchers have long argued that such approach with inflexible curriculum, fixed textbooks, teacher-talking mode and isolated learning contexts can hardly achieve the goal of developing student's creative thinking, entrepreneurial mindset and innovative capabilities.

One possible solution is through connected learning, which refers to the approach that seeks to construct a socially embedded, interest-driven, and orientated toward educational, economic, or political opportunity. This approach emphasizes that learning should be an integrated experience situated within a matrix of contexts including formal and informal, local and global, embodied and virtual, as well as distributed and integrated (Brown & Renshaw, 2006). As a result, learning in schools is no longer merely repeating what is already known but involves transformations in which something new and formerly unknown is created (Säljö, 2012).

Moreover, connected learning incorporates digital media and information technology, which seeks to leverage the potential of technologies to achieve of goal of developing students 21st-century skills. Information and communication technologies can increase students access to knowledge, get them connected with each other, provide individualized learning experience, and assist students  learning with timely feedbacks (Davis & Fullerton, 2016).

Against this background, we plan to explore the application of connected learning approach in tertiary education with a focus the development of students entrepreneurial mindset and innovative capability. For the UC Summer Scholarship Program, we plan to answer the following research question: How it is possible to cultivate entrepreneurs and innovators through connected learning?

We plan to adopt a mixed methods approach including literature review, survey and focus group with interviews. The literature review will identify existing pedagogies and teaching practices. The survey will explore broadly what informal learning practices students may be engaging with using digital technologies. Focus group with interviews will help us understand students and tertiary education providers perceptions of connected learning and what opportunities or challenges they see for this as a pedagogical approach in the cultivating entrepreneurs and innovators.

The research findings will identity existing and new use cases of connected learning in the discipline of entrepreneurship and innovation, inform our understanding of existing practices and provide recommendations to better support connected learning experiences for students.

Specific Requirements: We expect to work with a student who has a genuine interest in education and entrepreneurship studies, self-motivated, disciplined with good work ethics. If the student has research-relevant experience with the major in education, psychology, management or entrepreneurship, it will be a bonus. The student will mainly help us collect data by facilitating focus group interview, distributing survey questionnaire, conducting literature review and transcribing interview audios.

The students will have the opportunity to gain a wide-range of research experience from theoretical development to field implementation. This will further develop the students graduate attributes, such as communication, project management, engagement, and application of knowledge into practice. Hopefully, it will inspire the student's interest and curiosity in research and motivate the student keep lifelong learning and exploration.