Professional Development Workshops (PDWs)

November 14, 2018 in Toledo, Spain

Professional Development Workshops (PDWs) were included in the programme of the RENT pre-conference day for the first time at RENT XXIX in Zagreb 2015. The concept proved to be successful and PDWs are now part of the pre-conference day. PDWs are workshops to share knowledge and expertise and foster practical, professional and intellectual skills of participants.

This year’s RENT pre-conference day on 14 November will host four PDWs.  Participation in PDWs is free, but participants need to be registered for the conference in order to join. PDWs have a maximum of 30 participants each. Register by 7 November! Registration links for each PDW can be found in the programme table below.

PDW Programme:

Parallel session 1
New Directions for Research on Social Innovation and Embeddedness  Register
How to educate for sustainable entrepreneurship?  Register
Parallel session 2
Crafting Scholar/Researcher Wisdom: Co-constructing Learning and Identity – Observations Reflections and Futures  Register
Triggering entrepreneurial action through a ‘whole-cycle’ strategic task method: A task design workshop for people in leadership role, such as teachers, managers or business coaches  Register
New Directions for Research on Social Innovation and Embeddedness

Caroline Wigren, Lund University
Gry Alsos, Nord University
Ethel Brundin, Jönköping University
Jorunn Grande, Nord University
Elisabet Ljunggren, Nord University
Karin Hellerstedt, Jönköping University
Anna Stevenson, Lund University
Maria Aggestam, Lund University
Christin Scheller, Lund University
Steffen Korsgaard, University of Southern Denmark

Theme of the PDW

The increasingly complex, cross-sectorial and international social and environmental challenges facing local and global communities call for social innovations. Social innovation has been defined as the development of a “novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than existing solutions and for which the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals” (Phills, Deiglmeier, & Miller, 2008: 36). Notably, many social innovations address problems that fall between the domains of state or market solutions because they e.g. involve serving individuals or groups with limited means addressing problems with causes and symptoms that derive from multiple sectorial domains or boundaries making it difficult for public sector organizations to engage (Kickul & Lyons, 2012).

Consequently, due to the complex or wicked nature of social problems, the development and implementation of social innovations often involve entrepreneurial agency that cuts across and draws on resources from different contexts, institutions and sectors. Addressing complex problems thus requires deep knowledge of the nature and domain of a problem as well as institutional, political and entrepreneurial potency and skills. Also, social innovations may require the establishment of new organizations, institutions and organizational forms.

The enabling and constraining effect of embeddedness of social innovation within its context thus becomes of central importance for social innovators and entrepreneurs. Existing research in entrepreneurship and related fields shows that embeddedness in social, institutional, economic or spatial contexts can help actors access resources, build legitimacy and generally enhance performance (Jack & Anderson, 2002; R. C. Kloosterman, 2010; Korsgaard, Ferguson, & Gaddefors, 2015; McKeever, Jack, & Anderson, 2015; Thornton, 1999; Welter, 2011). Embeddedness effects can thus materialize positively through e.g. proximity, knowledge spill over or learning effects (Dacin, Ventresca, & Beal, 1999). In particular, the notion of mixed embeddedness highlights how being embedded in multiple contexts can enable actors because they can draw on resource and knowledge from disparate contexts to gain an advantage. This has been shown to enable entrepreneurial agency for e.g. marginalized or immigrant entrepreneurs (R. Kloosterman, Van Der Leun, & Rath, 1999; Price & Chacko, 2009; Ram, Jones, & Villares-Varela, 2017) and entrepreneurs in resource scarce contexts (Korsgaard et al., 2015), and could certainly provide an promising prospect for social innovators needing to bridge multiple and different contexts to develop and implement complex new solutions to social problems.
However, to do so social innovators have to create embeddedness that are coordinated by economic, political and cultural forces (Miller et al, 2012) but also by instrumental, emotional and motivational factors (Dees, 2007). Therefore, besides the contextual factors mentioned above, having enabling and constraining depths, the socio-cognitive, motivational and emotional have to be considered (Miller et al, 2012).

Embeddedness may also have constraining effects, something that has hitherto received limited attention in entrepreneurship research. Research from the intersection of regional development and entrepreneurship suggests that spatial contexts experience inertia due to path dependence and lock-in effects, which are hard to break and inhibit innovation and development (e.g. Asheim & Coenen, 2005; Isaksen, 2016). Such effects may lead to embeddedness in contexts becoming a liability for social innovators and entrepreneurs as breaking path dependent and locked-in routines and organizational patters may be exceedingly difficult. Embeddedness could likely inhibit ideation and creativity in coming up with new solutions as well as resistance in the implementation phases of social innovations.

Gaining a deeper understanding of the complexities of embedding and disembedding processes for social innovators and entrepreneurs thus constitutes a central challenge in research on social innovation. How can social innovators and entrepreneurs leverage (mixed) embeddedness while avoiding its constraining effects? How can policy, educational institutions and other institutions help social innovators and entrepreneurs by offering, facilitating or preventing embeddedness? And how do we research the role of embeddedness in social innovations? These and other questions will be the cornerstone of this PDW.

Outline of the PDW

The purpose of the PDW is to establish a theoretically informed discussion about the future of research into embeddedness and social innovation. The structure of the PDW will support this through a highly interactive format. The PDW will open with a short presentation of a relevant research project in process related to the key topics of the PDW. Afterwards there will be a panel discussion featuring three-four prominent scholars in the field of entrepreneurship who have all be working with different aspects of embeddedness and social innovation/entrepreneurship. The panel debate will be moderated by one of the organizers and combine short points from the panel on a set of specific questions with open questions from the audience.

Target group and take-aways

We believe that this PDW will be relevant for the majority of the attendants of the RENT conference. Not only are the concepts of embeddedness and context traditionally strong research themes at the RENT conference, but also the general call for more social, environmental and suitability focus in entrepreneurship research generally should make this topic broadly appealing.

Furthermore, the interactive comprehensive format will provide an excellent platform for networking activities across national boundaries and levels of experience; at the PDW as well as later in the conference.

Finally, the PDW will provide the participants with a clear set of take-aways in terms of:
– Update on the state of the research on embeddedness and social innovation
– Ideas for future research projects and possible collaborations
– Network contacts for future reference targeted to the topic of the PDW

Asheim, B. T., & Coenen, L. (2005). Knowledge bases and regional innovation systems: Comparing Nordic clusters. Research Policy, 34(8), 1173-1190. doi:
Dacin, M. T., Ventresca, M. J., & Beal, B. D. (1999). The Embeddedness of Organizations: Dialogue & Directions. Journal of Management, 25(3), 317-356. doi:10.1177/014920639902500304
Dees, J. (2007). Taking social entreprenurship seriously. Society, 44 (3): 24-31.
Isaksen, A. (2016). Cluster emergence: combining pre-existing conditions and triggering factors. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 28(9-10), 704-723. doi:10.1080/08985626.2016.1239762
Jack, S. L., & Anderson, A. R. (2002). The effects of embeddedness on the entrepreneurial process. Journal of Business Venturing, 17(5), 467-487.
Kickul, J., & Lyons, T. (2012). Understanding social entrepreneurship: The relentless pursuit of mission in an ever changing world (2nd ed.): Routledge.
Kloosterman, R., Van Der Leun, J., & Rath, J. (1999). Mixed Embeddedness: (In)formal Economic Activities and Immigrant Businesses in the Netherlands. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 23(2), 252-266. doi:10.1111/1468-2427.00194
Kloosterman, R. C. (2010). Matching opportunities with resources: A framework for analysing (migrant) entrepreneurship from a mixed embeddedness perspective. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 22(1), 25-45. doi:10.1080/08985620903220488
Korsgaard, S., Ferguson, R., & Gaddefors, J. (2015). The Best of Both Worlds: How Rural Entrepreneurs Use Placial Embeddedness and Strategic Networks to Create Opportunities. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 27(9-10), 574-598.

How to educate for sustainable entrepreneurship?

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Kari Djupdala*, Frode Halvorsena, Lise Aaboena, Siri Jakobsenb,
a Engage, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), 7491 Trondheim, Norway
bNord University, 8622 Mo i Rana, Norway
*Corresponding author; e-mail:

Workshop summary

Sustainable entrepreneurship theorists view market imperfections that contribute to environmental and societal degradations as entrepreneurial opportunities whose exploitation promise profit and social and environmental welfare. Despite this promising view of sustainable entrepreneurship, less is known about how entrepreneurship education may encourage skills that ensure that these opportunities are identified and explored. In this PDW, we focus on the challenge of developing entrepreneurship education to encourage and enable entrepreneurs to discover and exploit these entrepreneurial opportunities inherent in environmental and societal challenges. All the participants of the workshop will join forces to find solutions to this challenge using a wayfaring method. Hence, this PDW seeks to provide the participants with new insight that may develop the field of entrepreneurship education and enable further exploration and testing of the proposed learning methods, as well as an introduction to the method of wayfaring.

About the challenge: educating for sustainable entrepreneurship

An emergent discourse portrays environmental and societal challenges attributed to market failures as entrepreneurial opportunities, which, if exploited, can improve global conditions, reduce market imperfections, and generate entrepreneurial rent (Cohen and Winn, 2007; Dean and McMullen, 2007, Hall et al., 2010). Knowledge of these market imperfections can lead to entrepreneurial innovations and entrepreneurial rent, as well as alleviate harmful environmental or societal impacts (Cohen and Winn, 2007). Specifically, market imperfections related to efficiencies, externalities, pricing, and information generate numerous entrepreneurial opportunities (Dean and McMullen, 2007). For instance, inefficient production processes can lead to significant waste and pollution in the economic system. Innovative entrepreneurs focusing upon resource efficiency, waste minimization, and technology development may reduce harmful environmental impacts whilst at the same time reducing production costs. Changes occurring in the natural environment, and the growing attention to, and understanding of these changes can redefine firms markets. These changes can generate additional opportunities in the marketplace. The mobilization of informational advantages can lead to the creation and development of new and existing markets. Notably, entrepreneurs that discover and exploit opportunities that are present in existing market imperfections may garner entrepreneurial rents, while reducing environmental degradation and promoting national and regional development and competitiveness. However, the continuing trend towards greater environmental resource scarcity and dynamism in many industries (i.e., competitive pressures, high costs of technology, scarcity of information etc.) adds challenges for these opportunities to be developed, or even explored. Many view sustainability – the balancing of economic health, social equity and environmental resilience (Cohen and Winn, 2007), as a constraint (e.g. due to increased bureaucracy and costs of imposed standards), rather as an opportunity that may generate entrepreneurial rent.

Entrepreneurship education encourage the development of skills that enable entrepreneurs to discover and exploit economic opportunities in rapidly changing and unpredictable industry environments.
The benefit of entrepreneurship education has been widely recognized. However, impact studies have predominantly focused on short-term and subjective outcome measures of entrepreneurship education like entrepreneurial attitude, skills and intentions to start a business (Nabi et al., 2017). The promising
view of entrepreneurship as a potential panacea for some environmental and societal challenges has often been overlooked in the entrepreneurship education literature, however with some noteworthy exceptions. Lans et al. (2014) link the world of education for entrepreneurship and for sustainability to identify key competences of sustainable entrepreneurs like opportunity recognition skills, system-thinking, interpersonal skills including the ability to embrace diversity and interdisciplinary, foresighted thinking and proactivity. This is one-step forward to develop education in the intersection between entrepreneurship and sustainability, yet the need for knowledge regarding how to educate to enable the discovering and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities inherent in environmental and societal challenges is still evident.

In this PDW, the participants will explore the underlying problems of developing entrepreneurship education in a manner that encourage and enable the discovering and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities inherent in environmental and societal challenges that, if exploited, improve environmental and social welfare. We argue that the challenge of developing entrepreneurship education in this context becomes particularly complex since entrepreneurs will not only be in need for diverse skills, but because entrepreneurial thought and action is needed on the society and industry levels as well as for individual companies and entrepreneurs. The levels are often interrelated but no coordinated. Notably, this workshop seeks to find answers to questions such as: What do the students need to learn? What should the students do in order to learn? How should learning be facilitated? Using wayfaring as a method, participants will be encouraged to reflect upon, and discuss, the effectiveness of diverse learning methods, and hopefully this will enable and encourage further exploration and development of learning methods.

Wayfaring as a format for solving the challenge during the session

Wayfaring has its origin from design thinking, and can be described as a development journey where rapid learning cycles and probing ideas drives the development process and continuously shapes the outcome (Steinert and Leifer, 2012). The wayfaring path is continuously explored through probing ideas, where the best ideas are selected, evaluated and the new understanding of the process is taken to the next level. The wayfaring model has its most potential when it is applied to challenges with a high level of uncertainty in the development process, a high degree of intended innovation and freedom in the solution space and a limited amount of time (Gerstenberg et al., 2015).

In short, the wayfaring process consists of three phases. In the first phase the group prototype and test towards their initial target in order to explore and learn more about the actual problem. Learning about the actual problem enables the participants to shift their target coordinates and “overcome path dependencies and model blindness and to get a shot at ‘the really big idea’” (Steinert and Leifer, 2012: 252) in the second phase. In the third phase, ‘the really big idea’ becomes tangible through the identification of requirements and making plans for how to access resources and put the idea to life. Even though the process is originally developed for product development, it includes important elements such as involvement of diverse stakeholders and interdisciplinary collaboration for solving complex challenges. Hence, the method may be advantageous to facilitate discussion regarding how to develop students’ skills in discovering and exploiting entrepreneurial opportunities that simultaneously generate social equity and environmental resilience.

Plan for the session

Mins 0-15: The participants are placed in groups and we introduce the challenge. We will also introduce wayfaring by explaining the process and showing examples from previous workshops using wayfaring.
Mins 15-35: The Problem phase
Mins 40-60: The Solution phase
Mins 60-80: The embodiment phase
Mins 85-120: The groups present the solution they created to each other.

Participant preparation

This PDW aim toward a thorough discussion regarding appropriate learning methods for developing skills needed to discover and exploit opportunities inherent in environmental and societal challenges. We suggest that participant have made some thoughts about possible learning methods in advance.

Expected participant outcomes and take-ways

This PDW will provide the participants with new insight to the challenge of developing entrepreneurship education to encourage and enable entrepreneurs to discover and exploit the entrepreneurial opportunities inherent in environmental and societal challenges. The workshop will collect ‘shared practice’ empirics and the participants will have the opportunity to apply and develop these insights at a later stage. Furthermore, the participants have been introduced to the adapted method of wayfaring. The facilitators of this workshop have used this method several times. The intention is to build upon previous experience to provide participants with a thorough understanding of the method, hence enable participants to facilitate workshops for solving complex challenges at other settings.

Cohen B and Winn MI (2007) Market imperfections, opportunity and sustainable entrepreneurship. Journal of Business Venturing 22(1): 29
Dean TJ and McMullen JS (2007) Toward a theory of sustainable entrepreneurship: Reducing environmental degradation through entrepreneurial action. Journal of Business Venturing 22(1): 50
Gerstenberg A, Sjöman H, Reime T, Abrahamsson P and Steinert M. (2015) A Simultaneous, Multidisciplinary Development and Design Journey – Reflections on Prototyping. Entertainment Computing 9353, 409
Hall JK, Daneke GA and Lenox MJ (2010) Sustainable development and entrepreneurship: Past contributions and future directions. Journal of Business Venturing 25(5): 439.
Lans T, Blok V and Wesselink R (2014) Learning apart and together: towards an integrated competence framework for sustainable entrepreneurship in higher education. Journal of cleaner production 62(1): 37-47
Nabi G, Liñan F, Fayolle A, Krueger N and Walmsley A (2017) The impact of entrepreneurship education in higher education: A systematic review and research Agenda. Academy of Management Learning and Education 16 (2), 277
Steinert M and Leifer LJ (2012) Finding Ones Way: Re-Discovering a Hunter-Gatherer Model
based on Wayfaring. International Journal of Engineering Education, 28(2), 251

Crafting Scholar/Researcher Wisdom: Co-constructing Learning and Identity – Observations Reflections and Futures

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David Higgins1 & Kiran Trehan2

Key Words: Entrepreneurship (Research) Development, Critical Thinking, Learning Space, Reflexivity, Relational Learning

Learning to do good quality research is a vital element of entrepreneurship study, the development of competent researchers is one of the key challenges facing the entrepreneurship field today. Concerns have been expressed about the need for entrepreneurship scholars to engage more critically with the applied aspects of entrepreneurial practice through alternative methodological approaches, seeking to account for and highlight social, political and moral aspects of research. Equally, in a time where funding in higher education has become increasingly dependent on research impact there are renewed pressures to educate/ develop researchers/scholars  as opposed to indoctrinate them into traditional norms  of research techniques and methods currently in the field. It is of fundamental importance we pay attention to how we craft and practice our inquiry to reflect and appreciate the distinctive nature of our own professional development, by reflexively questioning our existing assumptions against existing established discourses by challenging current methods of scholarship in the field.  This Professional Development Workshop (PDW) serves as a timely opportunity to reflect upon and critique the skills and knowledge which are required by qualitative scholars / researchers to develop and thrive.


Instead of giving answers to people or advising them on how to be scholarly, our learning in this PDW will raise questions and create dialogue about what is meaningful for participants in their work:

Discussion Points

  1. Why adopt or become a Qualitative researcher, of whom and what is the benefit? How this method does define us and shapes our identity with the Entrepreneurship Community?
  2. Is qualitative research a good career choice?
  3. What kinds of problems does qualitative scholar experience in their professional journey?
  4. To what extent have qualitative scholars felt anxiety, lack of interest, stress, and exhaustion, and are these experiences related their plans to future career development?
  5. What inspires or blocks one to develop more enacted methods of research?
  6. How can we construct meaningful research practice in the entrepreneurship field?


The workshop will use the practice of self-critical reflexive dialogue to practically enhance understanding of how we can facilitate more collaborative and purposeful ways of “self” as a researcher/scholar for our own professional development. The workshops focus on developing the capacity of the participants to imagine and analyse the potential of their scholarship for the future by identifying opportunities to create and achieve new directions. The delivery style of the workshop will be informal, interactive and participant led, the PDW will be designed to enable complete participant involvement in a safe environment for all. The style of this workshop will be highly interactive and is based on small group dialogical exchange facilitated by a key discussant provocateur. A set of 4 discussant provocateurs, will serve a critical need to help participants develop their discussions. The PDW success will be in proportion to the willingness of us as participants to share our experiences, challenge each other’s ideas and offer input and suggestions.


DPW Key Learning Outcomes

  • Reflect on own and others’ practice to improve research.
  • Consider, critique and manage own requirements for continuing development.
  • Engage with storytelling to communicate with one’s academic and professional community in confident and autonomous ways.
  • Foster an independent learning ability required for continuing professional study, making professional use of others where appropriate


Why the workshop should be of interest to RENT delegates?

The workshop will be of interest to academics, practitioners, and policy makers, who are interested in developing leading edge research and practice in entrepreneurship research and practice by to challenging conventional canons of Entrepreneurship Research.


Triggering entrepreneurial action through a ‘whole-cycle’ strategic task method: A task design workshop for people in leadership role, such as teachers, managers or business coaches

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Martin Lackéus, Chalmers University of Technology
Mats Westerberg, Luleå University of Technology

The problem

Defining and allocating tasks for a group of people is a key function that any kind of leadership needs to take responsibility for and diligently perform (Braun et al., 2012, Adair, 1973). While simple and routine tasks are often relatively easy to articulate and distribute, explorative and more strategic entrepreneurial tasks are more difficult to frame and phrase. Research shows that it is difficult to define and prescribe what people need to do when performing an entrepreneurial job (Mansoori, 2018). This is a vexing challenge for entrepreneurship educators, for entrepreneurial corporate managers and for entrepreneurial business coaches.

The opportunity

Through experimental research and by drawing on Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning cycle, we have developed a “whole-cycle” method for designing strategic entrepreneurial tasks. This method has shown to be capable of triggering emotionally charged entrepreneurial action-taking, deep learning, deep reflection and/or organizational change. By ensuring that all four steps in Kolb’s experiential learning cycle are included in a task description, entrepreneurial jobs can become more “SMART”, i.e. specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and time-related (Doran, 1981) and thus easier to follow up and evaluate. This can facilitate entrepreneurial teaching as well as entrepreneurial value creation.

The “whole-cycle” task design method was developed through experiments conducted over a seven-year period with an innovative IT-based research and teaching tool called LoopMe (Lackéus, 2017, 2016). LoopMe is a “scientific social media” (SSM) platform, i.e. a social media platform optimized for social science and used primarily for data collection and analysis. It was originally developed for scientific purposes at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, but is also increasingly being used by teachers, managers and coaches for more practice-oriented purposes, such as formative assessment, action-based leadership and organizational change management.

While the main opportunity for participants is related to improving their ability to design entrepreneurial tasks, some participants could be interested in getting to know LoopMe as a novel and natively digital kind of data collection tool for scholarly purposes.

The workshop

In this workshop, participants will get hands-on advice on how to phrase and frame entrepreneurial action-taking that leads to desired behaviors among large groups of people, preferably more than 15 people at a time. The workshop lets participants apply the newly developed “whole-cycle” task design method to craft strategic action-oriented entrepreneurial tasks in a context of their choosing. Participants can choose to design entrepreneurial tasks for entrepreneurship students, for corporate employees, for entrepreneurs they currently are coaching, or for other situations where people would potentially receive collective prescriptive entrepreneurial advice or assignments. The person prescribing what to do could be an entrepreneurship teacher, an entrepreneurship coach, an entrepreneurial corporate manager or any other kind of legitimate prescriber of entrepreneurial action. The desired outcomes for those completing the tasks could be improved student learning, more efficient organizational change, increased organizational performance or any other outcome that can be the result of many people taking entrepreneurial action in a coordinated way.
The workshop starts with a brief background on prescriptive entrepreneurship (Mansoori, 2018), on action-centered leadership (Adair, 1973), on the experiential learning cycle (Kolb, 1984) and on the SSM platform LoopMe (Lackéus, 2017). Then the “whole-cycle” task design method is introduced and explained in considerable detail, with some examples given from practice. After these introductions, participants will get 45 minutes to craft their own entrepreneurial task descriptions, by using a form that is distributed to all participants. In this process, participants will coach each other in pairs by asking probing questions about the task. However, as experience has shown that expert coaching sometimes is required, this will be provided by the workshop organizers. Towards the end of the workshop, participants will get an opportunity to briefly present their crafted tasks, followed by some comments and feedback from the workshop organizers. In the last part of the workshop, participants are shown how the crafted tasks could be inserted into the LoopMe platform for further distribution to a relevant group of people.

After the workshop, those participants that are interested can use the LoopMe platform for free (see, to distribute their crafted tasks to a group of people that would benefit from completing the tasks. Use of the platform LoopMe is, however, not a requirement for task distribution. Any digital or analog method could be used to distribute the crafted tasks to a relevant group of people.

The main intended outcomes

The primary outcome of the workshop is to develop participants’ ability to design effective entrepreneurial tasks for people they exert leadership over. It could be in any given context of relevance to the participant, such as education, business, leisure or in other parts of public or private sectors. Another possible outcome is also to give those scholars interested in using LoopMe for data collection purposes a brief introduction to the configuration process preceding a launch of LoopMe on a group of respondents.

Adair, J. E. 1973. Action-centred leadership, McGraw-Hill New York, NY.
Braun, F. C., Avital, M. & Martz, B. 2012. Action-centered team leadership influences more than performance. Team Performance Management: An International Journal, 18(3/4), 176-195.
Doran, G. T. 1981. There’sa SMART way to write management’s goals and objectives. Management review, 70(11), 35-36.
Kolb, D. A. 1984. Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice Hall.
Lackéus, M. 2016. Value creation as educational practice – towards a new educational philosophy grounded in entrepreneurship? Doctoral thesis, Chalmers University of Technology.
Lackéus, M. 2017. Can Scientific Social Media Disrupt Entrepreneurship Research? . Internal working paper Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.
Mansoori, Y. 2018. Entrepreneurial Methods as Vehicles of Entrepreneurial Action. Thesis for Doctoral Degree,