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University of Essex

Seminars for 2017/18

25 October 2013: Are entrepreneurs just ‘corks bobbing in the sea’ of chance? (Management Science & Entrepreneurship Group)

Dr James Derbyshire from Anglia Ruskin University

At 14:00 in TF.0.34 .

James derbyshire
Abstract: Most scholars of entrepreneurship take it as axiomatic that entrepreneurs affect their firms’ performances. However, a radically different view has begun to gain prominence in the entrepreneurship literature – one with significant implications for both scholarship and policy. Namely, entrepreneurs have little control over their firms because business performance is largely random in nature and is, therefore, analogous to gambling. This talk will critique this view by suggesting it to be both an artefact of the methods used to analyse firm performance and reflective of a number of misunderstandings about the nature of randomness. It will argue that the interplay between randomness, resources and agency could be a fruitful avenue for future research attempting to resolve these issues, and that agent-based modelling could be a particularly useful (and currently underused) method for examining them.

About the speaker:

James Derbyshire is part of the Institute for International Management Practice (IIMP) at Anglia Ruskin University. Prior to joining the Institute he worked for many years in consulting for organisations such as Capgemini, Cambridge Econometrics and RAND Corporation. He has a bachelor's degree in history from The University of Liverpool, an MBA from Durham University Business School and a PhD from The University of Liverpool. His PhD examined the networks established by firms when attempting to innovate and related their various network configurations to the level of innovativeness achieved by them. It illustrated the usefulness of particular network configurations using a multi-agent model of the search for 'good' innovations on a fitness landscape.

His consultancy work has mainly focused on economic development. He managed a number of large-scale research projects for the European Commission while working for four years as a Senior Economist at Cambridge Econometrics. These included a project to estimate the capital stock for each region of the European Union for DG Regional Policy and a project to estimate the number of enterprises, number of employees, value-added, turnover, investment and wages and salaries in eight broad sectors for each EU Member State for DG Enterprise and Industry. Other organisations for which he has provided consultancy include the UK government, numerous local authorities, and private-sector firms such as General Motors Europe.

His research focus cuts across a number of fields and includes entrepreneurship, cluster measurement, innovation, regional development and economics, relationality and knowledge flows, demography, multi-agent modelling, scenario planning, and the philosophy and methods of social-science research.

Ticket information:
Free to attend, please book by emailing to

This event is open to the general public.

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