Friday, October 06, 2006

Writing writing writing

Being a researcher (which I thoroughly enjoy incidentally) seems to go something like this: Have an idea, read, read, read then read a bit more, figure out whether your idea has been done before, go a head and pilot your idea (i.e ask some people some questions about some stuff), read a bit more, analyse the answers to the questions figure out how they fit with what other people say and think, have some of your own ideas, read a lot more and then write, write, write and write a bit more with intermittent reading.

Now for someone like me who went to Art School and struggled a little with English, Grammar etc this writing bit can be tough. However this research gig is giving me no end of practice and I am delighted to have received, today, a copy of the most recent edition of Education and Training (a refereed, academic journal no less) where on page 518 can be found:

Enterprise curriculum for creative industries students; an exploration of current issues and attitudes

Written by myself and co-authored by Annette Naudin, the recently appointed lecturer for Screen Media Lab and BIAD's MA in Media Enterprise, of which I am the researcher - capturing the journey of the students.This paper highlights some of the key issues and features of creative industries curriculum related to enterprise and entrepreneurship, taking as it's basis the findings from our Creative Enterprise Conference way back in January 2006 - check back for an update as a new paper is in the pipeline following up on some of these findings....
As ever any feedback welcome.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Women and Men again

Having finally got around to applying for my PhD, I find myself almost incessantly thinking about the possibilities and realise I am often high jacking conversations. My proposed research area is 'The role of gender on entrepreneurship in the creative industries' - you may recall earlier postings which cite a pilot study that I carried out in the West Midlands.

An example of this impromtu PhD chat came yesterday while working on the Agender project, which seeks to break down barriers and gender inequality in non-traditional fields, I met with a film crew, some of whom were beneficiaries and some of whom were film makers. We were recording some footage about men into caring profession but the ongoing conversation was all about the sector that the film-makers found themselves in and a very insightful conversation it was to.

The film makers, both male, highlighted a number of issues:
1. In their opinion women make far better negotiators and producers, they are less ego driven so more inclined to manage the projects better.
2. Going into a meeting in order to get funding worked better if you had a mixed team (although one of the men cited a number of occasions when working with his female partner, funders preferred to deal with him when negotiating got to a certain point, even though by his own admission she was actually much better equipped than he at these types of negotiations.)
3. They both identified that it was a very tough industry and felt that it was more so for women' they have to make a choice they either have children or not, but it is much harder for them if they do'.
4. They both said they came across a lot women working in the sector, however a bit of digging around and like my small sample identified, a great deal of women work in the sector but few run businesses. Interestingly they felt that a lot of women were responsible for distributing public funds to the sector.

So anyway these are just some insights offered, but for me the useful part of this discussion was it helped me to think about how I might capture the different genders attitudes to one another within this sector and their perceptions of the role of gender with in the sector.


Later in the year I will be off to the ISBE conference, as are many of my colleagues. This annual national conference is the place for all things related to small business and entrepreneurship. All things being equal I will be presenting a paper on the pilot study of female entrepreneurs in the creative industries - which copyright dependent I will make available from this blog.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Creative Industires Women in business

Again another great stretch of time has passed since I last posted. This is something to do with spending the whole of April in New Zealand and Germany and taking a little longer than anticipated to get back into the swing of blogging - still enough excuses!

Although I have not been blogging I have been heavily involved in writing up some of the findings of recent research. As reasonably new to this whole research gig I can tell you that academic writing is hard (for me at least) and hugely time consuming this is mainly due to the amount of reading, understanding, salient point finding and then re-writing that is required. But I could go on and on about this - it is something I feel I am only really just getting the hang of and understanding the merit of the depth of literature review and rigour required.

More interestingly, perhaps, than my ponderings on writing are what I/we have been reporting on. One of the papers looks at some of the initial finding of a piece of research I've been involved in over the last twelve months which looks at female entrepreneurship in the creative industries. This has been for me a fascinating study into an area I have personal experience of and in some ways proved to back up all of the things I ever new about this sector, briefly these comprise of issues around friendship, networks, the night-time economy and fluid teams. Of course you'll have to wait for the paper to be published (if ever).

What was unexpected for me was how hard it proved to be to find the women. I was looking for women across the sector who were running established businesses (with employees and trading more than a year). This proved to be much harder than anticipated. Subsequent research has born out this initial revealing finding. Women are indeed under-represented in the sector in terms of business owners for example in Birmingham (UK) only 17% of businesses in the film and TV sub-sector are run by women. This is not to say this is the case across the country or sector but is certainly indicative of the situation I came across.

Anyway that is all for now just a little food for thought. Why are there so few women running businesses in the sector and does it matter?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Yikes I'm on a roll

Not quite.

Just wanted to mention, briefly, another blog of mine that might be of interest to some of you.

Another project I am working on called Agender (an EQUAL ESF project) have positively encouraged the use of blogging as an ongoing part of the research process (part of a wider desire for complete transparency). I really welcome this approach as having worked on public funded research projects in the past I have always found the line between what is public, when does it become public and what is owned by the funders rather ambiguous.

This approach also offers me the opportunity to get feedback, provides an ongoing platform to share idea with other partners in the project and hopefully contributes to the wider learning of the partnership as we go rather than a just a weighty report at the end.

Anyway I'm in danger of ranting. The project itself is looking at non-traditional job roles e.g: women into construction, IT , software design and men into childcare - it's early days but do take a look Agender Blog.

Tell me a story

Forgive me dear Blog reader but it has been over a month since my last posting. Not quite sure what happened, blogging fatigue maybe? I'm trying very hard to find my blogging mojo so in an attempt to break this negative cylce of low content production I'll just start writing and see what happens........

Maybe I'll tell you about some stories. In an earlier post I questioned my own creative output, being a researcher and all (hey I have a fine art degree it matters...ok). Well some useful responses courtesy, I belive, of Antonio Gould made me examine this whole thing a little bit more and reminded me that within research there is always the opportunity to take a creative approach, not to mention the endless writing that seems to accompany it.........not always so creative.

But here's the thing. Recently I have ben using a narrative methodology in my rsearch, in two ways both eliciting stories that people have been told and also having folks tell me their own experience as a story, this, in particular, I find extremely interesitng (it helps that I am genuinly interested in hearing about people - read nosey if you like). What I have discovered with this approach is that amongst other things it helps with the following things:
  • Both you and the interviewee identify the most salient points through the story
  • Everyone understands stories, so it is a nice common curreny between interviewer, interviee and future reader
  • It helps you find out how an orgnaisation/individual has made sense of a situation

I recently spoke to a senior colleague who introduced me to this approcah, he also makes use of drawing and all mannor of other creative means to understand and explore human and organsiational experiences.To this end I will be attending some regular workshops to try to get my head around these other methodolgies and hopefully will be testing them out on some folks.

My next step is how to make the writing really interesting to read (and I don't mean this blog, I'm hoping the posts are short enough not to get too dull)....and to think about other methods of disseminating my research findings.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Pictures and Surveys

Here is one of the only reasonable pictures that I took at our event at the Custard factory last week. Unfortunatly none of them came out too well, but this gives a bit of a feel for the day. We have recently sent out a brief survey to all delegates to gauge current attitudes towards the creative enterprise agenda. This will be included in the final report which will be available via Media Content Lab's website soonish.

If you would like to contribute to this survey then please email responses to the following questions:

1. How would you describe your role within this field?

2. What is your attitude towards educating Creative Industry students in enterprise?

3. What could Higher Education be doing to better support Creative Industry students and graduate progression into self-employment and/or entrepreneurship?

4. How would you like to see the field of creative enterprise education progress?

5. What would be a useful tool to help you learn more about this field? (e.g. website, email discussion list, newsletter)

6. Would you be interested in attending a follow-up conference (2007) to explore and develop some of the themes relevant to this topic?

7. Do you have any comments relating to aspects not covered above?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Creative Entrepreneurs from Creative Students

Well it's the day after what proved to be a pretty successful event. Antonio Gould one of our panellists and Director of 3form a local Internet company has posted this very positive account of the day on his newish blog. Overall I found the occasion very positive with some clear next steps for how as a community of interest we might all start working together i,e those folks with an interest in educating creatives in enterprise. For me there was a whole host of new ideas that came out of the event and really by way of reminding myself here is a bullet list of future posts I will attempt to write from things that came up from the day:

1. Do creative people learn differently? Or is just that they are taught differently?
2. What can Business Schools learn from Arts Schools in terms of experiential learning for future entrepreneurs: i.e brief, self management, critique
3. With the increasing lack of failure in HE (i.e no one fails anything anymore) is being a student detrimental to developing your enterprising abilities. (i.e failure, coping with failure/rejection is part and parcel of the real world for creative Industries).

There are many more but I will try to get back to these soon. There will also be a longer and more comprehensive breakdown of the conference coming soon/tomorrow.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Are creative people entrepreneurs? 1st attempt

Here I am making a brief examination of how the four or was it five? aforementioned characteristics of entrepreneurship fit with the profile of creative industries people.

Entrepreneurs are prepared to take risks

This got me thinking. Are all folks that go through creative industry type courses* entrepreneurs? Based on the highly competitive fields that we are training people for aren't those creative individuals taking a risk on their own talent, future employment, financial and not to mention emotional well-being (i.e if it doesn't work out and it doesn't always). Do they make an investment in their talent and hope it pays dividends?

The Entrepreneur manages resources, knowledge and power (as opposed to being an employee and having those things managed by other people)

Levels of self-employment within the creative sector are very high. In some sectors as many as 80%* of individuals are self-employed. With over 42%* of creative industry graduates having had some level of self-employment in the first five years of graduating.

Doesn't sound like employee material to me ..although note to self :- must remember to ask esteemed colleague about entrepreneurship through necessity, survival...When that is the only employment option!

They are in pursuit of profit (although this may come in the form of something other than money) but lead us to question how do we measure 'other' types of profit?
Now this is a strange one, you see and this is anecdotal, from my own experience and backed up by a series of recent interviews. The motivations for people within these sectors are often around full-filling a creative need, not being an employee, not selling out or giving up, doing a better design, building a bigger profile, being 'known' for being good at what they do. The motivation is never cited as being financial although all recognise that this is a requirement of staying in business and continuing to do what they want to do. In terms of this profiting them I need to think about this one.

Personal satisfaction is a major motivator
As above - this is a major motivational factor in this sector and a major reason for folks pursuing the self-employment route.

Their relationship to opportunity: they tend to either seek it, create it or recognise it and presumably exploit it!
In a recent piece of research I was involved in, that looked at social inclusion in the creative industries, one of the major barriers to beneficiaries (individuals who took part in the project) becoming or sustaining self-employment was there inability to do any of the above, sometimes these were the most talented individuals but there inability to exploit, recognise, or pursue opportunities set them apart from others. There maybe many reasons for this but what it did identify was that in this sector where talent is at such a high premium without the opportunity its not worth having. Incidentally the groups who were targeted for that piece of research were from communities who were vastly under-represented in the creative industries and had even lower levels of self-employment.

* I will dig out the references for these stats, mainly from the Destinations and Reflections report (1999)

Friday, January 20, 2006

5 days to go!

Ladies and Gentlemen there are now just 5 days until the Creative enterprise event I and some colleagues from our faculty of Art and Design are organising. I will be feeding back shortly afterwards, We have had an overwhelming response from potential delegates and have filled (if they all turn up) each of the Custard Factory theatres seats and a reserve list of 20! This will be a busy day and very timely with the recent publishing of the Cox Review which will undoubtedly get some airplay next Wednesday. This review is definitly worth a read, especially as the role of higher education in promoting creativity and enterprise is heavily featured.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Questions answered? sort of

The other evening, following a long day at work, I and some fellow colleagues trundled down the corridors and passageways of our building to attend a workshop lead by our esteemed colleague and widely acknowledged expert on the subject of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, Dr Harry Matlay, Professor of Small Business and Enterprise Development. What followed proved to be a highly entertaining and even a little challenging dipping of the toes into the often complex world of entrepreneurship theory (?)

In this post I will just cover the event, as I saw it (I would like to say for the record that this is my interpretation and the messages I took from it), what happened etc and in a later post I hope to apply some of the stuff that was spoken about and hazard some observations as to how it fits with the Creative Industries sector.

The event was aptly named 'What is Entrepreneurship?' couldn't have come at a better time for me (see earlier post 'entrepre-what?' post) as this has been a question arising again and again since I got involved in this whole creative enterprise gig.

So here's where we got to, it's worth saying that, and Harry eluded to this, that we were somewhat covering the basics and like so many things with every answer came more questions, the answers of which are apparently being saved for a future event.

This was very much a participatory event and throughout we were asked to question our perceptions of what constitutes an entrepreneur:
Is Entrepreneurship about: Risk, state of mind, profit?

Harry went on to describe some 'Rules' of entrepreneurship at all times questioning our understanding against his and acknowledging that there are many opposing views as to what entrepreneurial traits are. But apparently entrepreneurs amongst other things tend to exhibit the following:

- Entrepreneurs are prepared to take risks
- The Entrepreneur manages resources, knowledge and power (as opposed to being an employee and having those things managed by other people)
- They are in pursuit of profit (although this may come in the form of something other than money and lead us to question how do we measure 'other' types of profit? – a point I will be re-visiting)
- Personal satisfaction is a major motivator
- Their relationship to opportunity: they tend to either: seek it, create it or recognise it and presumably exploit it

With a lively audience there was plenty of debate and disagreement around each of these issues and plenty of food for thought for me about the relationship between these attributes and folks from our sector. Accompanying this workshop was a thoroughly researched, well written and apparently award winning paper by Dr Matlay entitled: Researching entrepreneurship and education Part 1: what is entrepreneurship and does it matter? This paper offered up many more potential posts for this blog so watch this space!