What Does Entrepreneurship Mean to You? | Knowledge @ emlyon


At present, Prof Jean Clarke serves as Professor of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Organization at emlyon business school and teaches “Qualitative Research Methodology” for emlyon Global DBA Program. Prof Jean Clarke rooted in Ireland received her Ph.D. from the University of Leeds. Thanks to her academic achievements, Prof Clarke was awarded professorship at the age of 33, and was often invited to speak on various forums and influential business media.

Recently in Shanghai, Prof Clarke demonstrated a variety of qualitative research methodologies to DBA participants, including narrative, storytelling and classical ethnography. She also guided the participants to collect first-hand data in the forms of face-to-face interview, focus group interviews, observations and reflection notes. We took the opportunity to interview Prof. Jean Clarke. In addition to encouraging entrepreneurs to engage in trials and errors, she also shared some tips on how to win investors during pitching.

Q1: As a professor in entrepreneurship and Organization, what does entrepreneurship mean to you?

Coming from an academic perspective this is not a question that has a necessarily straightforward answer. In fact it is a perennial question in the field of entrepreneurship and innovation. Many definitions have been put forward and they co-exist together depending on the particular focus of a study. For some entrepreneurship refers exclusively to new start-ups and ventures while for others it is closer to a form of innovation, where new combinations of materials are brought together to create something new and different.

I personally like the idea that entrepreneurship is an activity undertaken by certain individuals who discover or create new opportunities; this could be in a new venture or in a more established organization.

Q2:Can we teach entrepreneurship?

I’m not sure we can say we teach people to become entrepreneurs but we can introduce students to the world of entrepreneurship and show them how they be entrepreneurial in their lives whether in their own ventures or in employment. Entrepreneurship education also tends to be innovative and in my own teaching I try to teach students through more experiential approaches.

Entrepreneurship education to me is more about creating a mind-set in students that is useful beyond solely a business context; it’s a means to be creative and innovative in many aspects of their careers and lives.

Q3:Could you please share how body language will impact on investor decision-making during entrepreneurial pitches?

Yes the results of my research show that gestures, which are spontaneous movements of the hands and arms during speech, can impact on whether or not investors are likely to invest in a venture. To put it simply gestures can help investors comprehend the message in the pitch more clearly and therefore they are more likely to be persuaded by the pitch presentation and in turn they are more likely to invest.

Q4:What are some advice you could give to entrepreneurs on pitch presentation?

Gestures are important particularly gestures that illustrate ideas or what we can call representative gestures. I would advise entrepreneurs to practice their pitch and the gestures that they plan to use to illustrate their ideas. Use gestures at key point to portray your core ideas, however, don’t gesture too much or unnaturally as this may result in you distracting the investor from your message.

Q5:Mass entrepreneurship and innovation is flourishing across China. What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur in China?

I would say as a lot of research suggests that you should be passionate about your idea and your business. Creating a new venture or being entrepreneurial within an organization can be very challenging so in order to retain your focus through the tough times you need to ensure from the beginning that you believe in your idea and you are willing to push through despite the many obstacles you might face on the way.