Theory Soup Wins the Prize

I am delighted to report that Dr Karl Warner, Chef par Excellence, previously featured in my blog post “Theory Soup” has been awarded the Adam Smith Business School Prize for PhD Excellence.

Karl PhotoThesis: Networking Capability Development in New Venture Internationalisation: A Theory Building Approach

I am immensely proud to receive the Adam Smith Business School Prize for PhD Excellence. As my hometown is Kirkcaldy, Fife – the birthplace of Adam Smith – it is an even greater honour to receive this award.

Karl  received his PhD in International Business and Entrepreneurship in July 2014. Karl’s thesis explores how medical technology start-ups build “networking capability” to enable their new venture internationalisation. Focussing on social capital, his thesis explores how Scottish and Australian medical technology start-ups can connect and collaborate with suitable investors, mentors, R&D partners, professional service providers, contract manufacturers, distributors and licensors in order to access critical resources for early internationalisation.  This doctoral research therefore helps explain how entrepreneurs should manage these relationships and use this social capital to commercialise and grow their firms in high-technology markets.

Daydreaming my way, part two

DSC_0221The funny thing about daydreaming is that when you have time to do it, to really let go and lose yourself in some magical forest of discovery, somehow the paths into the forest lead to dead-ends. It is when daydreaming diverts from something that really must be done that the paths open to a mystical tour and you never know where you will end up. Those  commas in the text you are trying so hard to edit become tadpoles swimming in the bucket that you once put them in after fishing them from a canal. The canal becomes a lake, there are boats on it. There are boats too off the Maltese islands where the sun is shining and you are lying on a deck, glass of champagne in your hand. Bubbles rise in the glass and you remember the Bermuda triangle where ships sink because of bubbles rising in the water  and lots of tiny bubbles decrease buoyancy. But that doesn’t explain  planes falling out of the sky or does it? So you just have to look up wiki and on the way you find an article on the universe and download some pictures from the Hubble because they are so beautiful and relaxing, and evocative of something but what? Hey this one reminds you of jellyfish, stained glass colours in indigo oceans and what was that tune about indigo skies, and suddenly it is lunchtime and where has the morning gone?

Daydreaming is about your inner stream of consciousness where your mind of its own accord wanders from thought to thought, memory to memory making connections and associations that allow us to see things in novel ways. Daydreaming underpins creativity but is not in itself productive. Creative people are those who are able to harness their daydreaming, and steer it towards a tangible outcome, or snatch ideas in passing like forest fruits from the meandering pathways of fertile imagination. Creative people follow roaming thoughts to see where they lead but creativity comes not so much by accident as by design. Invention results from creative and experimental thinking. If rising bubbles sink ships, what happens in the air that sinks planes? If I change the character in my story from a girl to a boy would he think differently? Will my house be warmer if I grow a garden on my roof? How will smoked fish taste if I eat it with my fruit salad (the canteen had run out of plates, and yes it was delicious). Was salty caramel a lucky accident, and did that blogger who enjoyed cheese sauce on his apple pie discover it by design or error?

The difference between daydreaming your way passively through life and being productively creative is knowing when to let your thoughts wander, and when to switch off the dreaming channel and focus on the task at hand. Creative people are dreamers, true, but creative people are also task oriented, motivated to get things done and see the results of their creativity. Creative people are able to balance their dreaming with focused activity, harness ideas from their dreams and make something of them. I wonder why these lessons are so hard to learn. There I go again, off at another tangent.

DSCN1869This month has not been very dreamy for me as you can probably see from the lack of new posts. This has been a month of focused, task oriented activity. Reporting, marking, processing, form-filling, and  solving everyone else’s problems. Daydreaming does not pay the mortgage. Not Yet. 

Contingency Plan

“The writer has something to say – the academic is an apologist”

I identified closely with many of the sentiments and observations in Chris Walsh’s recent article in the Times Higher Education (THE) promoting his work on cowardice.  Academic work is constantly scrutinised for relevance, rigour, quality and contribution to knowledge. There are conventions in publishing that encourage particular writing styles and of course all previous relevant knowledge must be cited.  The publish or perish culture also forces us down a route of safe and sure publication, and the prevailing emphasis on objectivity renders the academic voice near silent. This week, for the first time in a long time, I dug out and re-read  some of my earliest papers. Two things struck me.  The first was how rough they seemed in  writing style, and how  much they would benefit from further editing, even although the editors at the time thought them good enough to publish. The second was the confidence with which I expressed myself in those early papers, which puts my more recent (yet more skilfully written) work to shame. In those early papers I had a voice, I was a writer with something to say and it came over strong and clear despite other shortcomings.  My most recent academic work is more refined, more accurate in its positioning in the body of literature, and follows the publishing conventions in our field, but it has no voice, or at least not one that I recognise as my own.  Has the academic world gone too far in silencing the subjective, sometimes quirky, but well-informed voices of the academic community? Have we, as Walsh suggests, become apologists for our own craft? Or is it just me?

Intellectual cowardice | Features | Times Higher Education.