Prof Sonny Nwankwo
As a ‘fellow traveller’ in the study of entrepreneurship in minority groups, I am gratified to see continued systematic attention to the broad range of issues relating to research and practice in this context. Contributions to this themed edition of Enterprising Matters, without a shadow of doubt, provide incremental additions to knowledge of the dynamic processes of entrepreneurship from the contextual lenses of minority groups. Understandably eclectic, they individually advance our understanding and appreciation of inter-subjective discourses and situated practices. They also show that much more learning/understanding is required to fully appreciate the temporal and spatial dimensions of entrepreneurship. Additionally, it is clear that the process of ‘learning’ and ‘knowing’ is complicated not only by the subject area’s eclecticism but also its relativism. This is not a disadvantage. Rather, it reinforces the notion that entrepreneurship in minority groups is a very fertile terrain for exploration but research to inform, critique, influence and inspire critical reflections and innovative practices remain in its infancy.
Essentially, this field of entrepreneurship has continued to excite and challenge all those with an interest in the area, be they researchers, educators, practitioners or policy makers. This is largely because it is an area that is full of exploratory potentials, fecund, ever-evolving and continually exposing new possibilities. For academic researchers like myself who consider entrepreneurship as a discursive practice that is tied to the goals and practices of specific social agents in given historical contexts and embedded in socio-economic relations of power, it certainly is a field of vibrant contestations. Perhaps, there is a philosophical angle to this which, in part, has much to do with constructions, discontinuous, dialectic and sometimes contradictory reconstitutions or reconstructions of ‘minority groups’ in research settings (the problematic of subjectivity).
Accordingly, researchers are pulling conceptual and analytical tools from various disciplinary areas to reinterpret what Gartner alluded to as the ‘critical mess’ of entrepreneurship. The results have been profoundly refreshing; boundaries have continued to be pushed back, ‘truth claims’ have come under increasing tensions, orthodoxies and taken-for-granted assumptions are challenged, methodological pluralism and conceptual reflexivity are significantly evident and gaining popularity. All of these intensify scholarly excitement as well as challenge. The range of papers from diverse backgrounds and geopolitical areas submitted to the track during the 2010 ISBE conference says a lot about this. Be that as it may, there are still many empty boxes to be filled in this area of research. There are still too many ‘unknowns’. Tackling some of these can add to research excitement in, and enrichment of, knowledge production and dissemination. Therefore, more effort is still required on the part of the multiple-interest stakeholder groups (researchers, practitioners, policy makers) to work together in order to meaningfully illuminate the seemingly muddled, cluttered and sometimes confusing conditions of entrepreneurship in minority groups.
It is particularly difficult to summarise the arguments and positions adduced in this special edition of Enterprising Matters. Whilst we cannot clearly delineate the boundaries of entrepreneurship in minority groups (it will be unproductive to attempt too), the papers here demonstrate the wide variety of intellectual purposes and practice approaches. In many ways, they stretch theoretical and discursive aspects of contemporary forms of entrepreneurship. In doing so, newer directions and agendas are introduced, some potently emergent themes are focused – all which give impetus to re-scoping the landscape of entrepreneurship in minority groups. The ‘debate papers’ on ‘illicit rural enterprise’ and female entrepreneurship are exemplars. The analyses exemplify this modern rationality and have a particular relevance when put alongside the complexities of reading and deciphering the ‘meaning below the surface’ in much of the entrepreneurial processes within minority groups. These perspectives, in their research significance, policy implications and urgency, may turn out to be more than just ‘academic work’.
In conclusion, I am immensely grateful to all the contributors who, despite very short notice and severe time constraints, afforded us the opportunity to showcase their work. Thank you one and all. I am looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Sheffield, come ISBE 2011. I am hopeful that the general readership of Enterprising Matters will enjoy this edition.
Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
Prof Sonny Nwankwo, Director, Petchey Centre for Entrepreneurship, University of East London