Being in my fourth year, I have successfully worked on numerous papers that have required me to conduct extensive amounts of research and subsequent analyses. The research project that I had the pleasure of working on over the summer was, however, much more intensive than anything on which I have previously worked, thus enabling me to significantly enhance my research skills.

Gemma sitting on a bench in the quad

Working with Sprott researchers was a great experience. I was provided with a topic to investigate which involved addressing an interesting research question. In this endeavour, I was given a certain degree of latitude as to how I could go about my investigation and I benefitted greatly from having a one-on-one session with a very knowledgeable reference librarian to help me get started. I would regularly update my supervisors on my progress and consult with them about any questions or ideas that I had – they gave very useful guidance and assistance when needed – but I appreciated the trust they had in me and the responsibility bestowed upon me.

My major task was to critically search through multiple online databases to examine different literatures in support of the overall research aims of the internship (discussed below). In doing this, I improved my critical thinking and analytical skills, as well as my ability to thematically summarize various literatures. In consultation with my supervisors, I also worked on making preliminary determinations/judgements as to the extent to which there are linkages between the literatures and identifying fruitful opportunities for further exploration therein. For example, it was in reviewing the literatures that I noted to my supervisors that there appeared to be an opportunity to explore social entrepreneurship within the context under investigation (i.e., multi-sector collaboration).

My research involved examining the usefulness and relevance of applying theory developed in the entrepreneurship domain to a particular management context. Specifically, I conducted a critical literature review – with the aim of developing a peer-reviewed conference paper or journal article – that examines the applicability of effectuation to multi-sector collaboration.

When multiple sectors (e.g. the triple helix of academia, industry and government) collaborate, they have the potential to generate innovative solutions to very complex social problems. Thus suggesting that working together to tackle these issues can be more successful than if any one sector attempted this individually. These “innovate solutions” may involve venture creation, suggesting there is merit in looking at whether effectuation can inform collaboration among sectors as it is a decision-making logic used to solve problems in the creation of a venture.

The diagram below illustrates the effectual cycle, showing the process one goes through when employing effectual thinking.

Diagram showing: Means (who am I, what do I know?), Goals (what can I do?), Interactions (2 stick figures), Commitments, New Means or New Goals

Source: adapted from Sarasvathy, S. D. (2008). Effectuation: Elements of entrepreneurial expertise. Cheltenham, U.K: Edward Elgar Publishing.

In reviewing the literatures on effectuation and multi-sector collaboration, and looking for evidence of the former’s applicability to the latter, as mentioned, it became evident that there was an opportunity to link social entrepreneurship to this context. It can be argued that when multiple sectors collaborate to address complex social issues – and a venture is created – they are engaged in social entrepreneurship. Ultimately, I did in fact find that effectuation is applicable in this context – though I won’t discuss that in detail here…you can (hopefully) read my and my supervisor’s published paper to learn more.

Overall, working on this research project alongside experienced researchers in the Sprott community was an amazing opportunity. I was able to enhance my research skills and learn a great deal about novel concepts with which I was previously unfamiliar. This experience has encouraged me to think more about research as part of my future studies (e.g. doing graduate school). It showed me that I have the capability to pursue research above an undergraduate level; though whether or not I choose to complete graduate school, I have learned some preliminary research skills that should serve me well regardless of where my career path takes me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018 in
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