UNDERSTAND | August 28, 2017

GERN Announces Priority Research Questions

Photo Credit: Global Entrepreneurship Network

The Global Entrepreneurship Research Network (GERN) is pleased to announce the research priority questions that emerged from its crowdsourcing activities conducted over the past year.

“GERN has been working since 2014 to harmonize research investments of major foundations engaged in entrepreneurship research over the past year, and based on collaborative results, it endeavored over last year to seek feedback from the community to jointly envision new catalytic areas for future research,” said Phil Auerswald, GERN chair, during the field report presentation of these priority research questions on Monday, August 21.

These new catalytic research areas were distilled by GERN members at their fourth annual meeting in South Africa, based on feedback obtained by bottom-up processes of inquiry.

The bottom-up search for burning questions among entrepreneurs and entrepreneur-support organizations was carried out via three avenues to reach more than 2,000 ecosystem stakeholders and entrepreneurs from across 170 countries:

  • A half-day unconference session at the Startup Nations Summit in November 2016 with external policy advisors and government program leaders sharing pain points in policy and program tool effectiveness.  
  • A two-day permanent design thinking station at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress expo space, where more than 1500  participants shared issues or burning challenges they face as they build ecosystems and companies.
  • Four design thinking exercises with groups of 30-35 people each. These workshop sessions guided participants through the full design thinking journey, driven by four prompts:
    • What data do you need to strengthen support structures for entrepreneurs?
    • How might various ecosystem players work together to help new entrepreneurs succeed – throughout the year, all around the world?
    • What do you think would create a more effective and sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystem at the country-level?
    • How might can we more effectively help city ecosystems around the globe work together?

Based on the vast amount of crowdsourced material, GERN members found demand for fresh evidence in the following areas:

  1. Increasing the granularity and usability of data:
    • How can the data that exist be more useful to entrepreneurship supporters?
    • What types of data that are not yet gathered would be most useful for entrepreneurship supporters? 
    • What are meaningful and measurable indicators of success?
  2. Nurturing entrepreneurial mindset: 
    • What personal traits are correlated with entrepreneurial initiative and effectiveness? Which of those traits are most amenable to being taught or developed?
    • How do these traits--particularly those that are relatively malleable--vary among different people and groups?
    • What interventions are most effective in nurturing entrepreneurial mindset?
  3. Building valuable personal connections: 
    • What types of connections are most valuable to entrepreneurs?
    • How can valuable connections be most effectively developed? 
    • Is there any way to synthetically create these types of connections?
    • How do we measure connections and connection intensity?
  4. Ensuring the inclusiveness of entrepreneurial ecosystems
    • Which groups are best connected to entrepreneurship ecosystems? Where and how are some excluded?
    • In what way does inclusivity of the ecosystem affect outcomes? 
    • What can be done to affect inclusivity?

During the field report conference call, GERN members began reflecting on these research questions, and committed to collaborate to get answers back to the field. 

Cristina Fernández focuses on integrating policymakers into startup ecosystems across the world, creating platforms for them to exchange ideas… About the author