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How can we cultivate innovation & creativity in people and teams & gear up their thinking around trying new things while maintaining commercial credibility? Design Thinking (and not giving up) is one way forward...
I'm looking after the Innovation, and Design Thinking modules at Kingston Business School University London. These are subjects close to my heart as their core is empathy and understanding people, something that I am trying to understand in my everyday living and research. I am also leading the national Help to Grow Management Programme where we help cultivate SME leaders' thinking around business growth and what it takes: innovation, strategy, vision, winning new markets, employee engagement, finance, and operation.
What makes my work most exciting? Cultivating people's imagination and innovative ideas. Enabling their enthusiasm and helping everyone try new things. I do believe everyone is carrying the true spirit of entrepreneurship and it just needs to shine through...
How did I get here? A PhD in Entrepreneurship at the University of Essex (which by the way was about the emotional experience of entrepreneurs during the business exit process, a personal experience at the time), working as a fire engineer (which was essential in understanding accuracy and risk, thanks to late Jukka Hietaniemi), starting, succeeding, and ending a few businesses. Each work experience opened a new window, allowing me to see things from a different perspective. Each job I had was an exciting opportunity to push me into a new field where I could learn a lot from those around me, people, systems, and businesses.
Business exit, SME leaders' and employees' health and well-being, work disengagement, employees disengagement and engagement: if you are interested in me supervising your work (MSc, PhD), send a short and focused proposal and include your CV (email@example.com). I get back to you ASAP!
Course Director Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, Programme Director Help to Grow Management
I am working hard to provide high-quality teaching that benefits our students and my colleagues. I have also established external networks in my area of teaching and research, entrepreneurship and Innovation. In particular, I am:
Designing, developing, delivering, evaluating and reviewing a range of modules in my subject area which is Entrepreneurship and Innovation via the following activities and responsibilities
the following modules which included a) developing and delivering new material, b) keeping students up to date about research and industry insight relevant to the topic, c) actively assessing students' learning, and d) adjusting the teaching and learning material and style to reflect on their learning.
· Innovation BS6701 (MEQ results: avg. 4.04 attached)
· Entrepreneurship and Organisations BS4202A (MEQ results: avg. 3.91 attached)
· Entrepreneurship and Organisations BS4202B (MEQ results: avg. 3.5 attached)
· Business Design Thinking BS4205 (new module, extensive material development)
I also taught on the following modules to support colleagues:
· Consultancy in Practice BS6701 (Quantitative Methods; Personal Professional Development)
· Basic to advanced quantitative methods series for British Academy of Management
Achievements: Where the modules were delivered by me the MEQ results were good and CEPs and MEPs were closely followed to improve the module deliveries. As a result, students appreciated the innovative nature of teaching activities as well as realisation of their abilities and skills, something I try in my teaching style. May aim is that students realise that some of them worker harder than others, but they are all same smart.
Challenges: Where the modules were diverted in cooperation with other departments the MEQs and the assessment element outcomes could have been improved. To overcome this challenge I have started early communication and agenda establishment so we could follow similar strategy and teaching activities that improves students learning experience.
v Taking responsibility for the subject area and range of modules as appropriate and developing and supervising a diverse range of students
In 2020, I continue to lead the following modules:
· Innovation BS6701
· Entrepreneurship and Organisations BS4202A
· Entrepreneurship and Organisations BS4202B
· Business Design Thinking1, BS4205
· Business Design Thinking2, BS5205 (new module, extensive material development)
· Entrepreneurship and Strategic Growth, BS5403 (new module, extensive material development)
Personal tutor to students
Also, I continue to director BSC Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management course which includes lecturing some of the above modules,
Contributing to identification of innovative approaches to teaching and learning
In all the above modules and programs, I am working hard to deliver excellent teaching, assessment, and feedback as well as tutoring my students (52) from diverse programs and backgrounds.
For example, since March I have set a drop-in weekly meeting for MSc dissertation supervision where students share their progress and ask questions as they emerge. The innovative collective approach allows peer -learning and support and students have expressed their appreciation for remaining motivated and easy to reach supervisor approach and consistent communication through regular meeting.
Since last year I also embedded the "tool-box" in my modules. It includes life hacks for improving students' work such as MS office hacks/hands-in tools, structured templates to help developing an idea for the assignment/ report/creative work, video tutorials for time management, groupwork and communication tools, etc. The evidence that they have helped improved my students' outcomes is the quality of assessments and the improved average marks across all the modules I thought in 2019-20. I do take pride in seeing my students thrive, their quality of work has been exemplary.
From 2019 I embedded creative video presentation as an alternative to conventional in-class presentation. So, for example in Autumn 2019 I assessed first elements of most modules which was the 2 minutes creative videos. Not only students were able to use variety of tools and ways to convey their ideas, but also, they became much more involved in the group work, considering some of them used to experience discomfort when doing in-class presentation. They used avatars, drawings, new programmes and software to create videos that were relevant and rigour to their learning outcomes.
Engaging in continuing professional development and contributing to knowledge development in my subject
While leading and delivering the above module, I am also contributing to entrepreneurship, strategy, and innovation scrutiny activities and keep myself informed about the subject area and range of relevant modules within and outside Kingston University. This includes constantly observing the market and becoming familiar with what other HE institutions offer in terms of specialised knowledge, learning and teaching material, and industry activities.
I am also contributing/ taking responsibility for developing subject material and building professional network in my subject areas and in Entrepreneurship and Innovation outside Kingston.
In winter 2019 I initiated the first virtual quantitative methods training for the British Academy of Management (BAM). The workshops were called Quantitative Research for All (2 months, 5 sessions) and included range of methods and hands on skills for postgraduate students across the globe. The evidence of success was having up to 110 participants from 25 counties. (See https://www.bam.ac.uk/civicrm/event/info%3Fid%3D3682%26amp%3Breset%3D1)
I am currently developing the content material in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship for a UCL project that is an online platform to improved students experience. https://studious.org.uk/
I am also taking Eir responsibility for London Metropolitan university in a shared research project funded by CABS (see Research, Leading to Grow project).
I research and write about entrepreneurial exit decisions and different strategies that entrepreneurs pursue to leave the venture, i.e. voluntary cessation, harvesting, and stewardship exit strategies. I am also interested in health and well-being and the benefits of work disengagement as a cognitive choice or as a coping mechanism. So the variables and conditions that influence entrepreneurs' feelings for their business such as, co-founders' interactions and support and diversity in entrepreneurial management teams. I am interested in the applications of Structural Equation Modelling and teach it from time to time.
Best Paper Award:
*2017 Best Full Paper Award in Organisational Psychology at British Academy of Management Conference.
*2017 Best Full Paper Award from Australian Organisation of Employees' Health and Wellbeing.
Current PhD students
Afrahi, Bahare, Blenkinsopp, John, Fernandez de Arroyabe, Juan Carlos and Karim, Mohammed Shamsul (2022) Work disengagement : a review of the literature. Human Resource Management Review, 32(2), p. 100822. ISSN (print) 1053-4822
Afrahi, Bahare (2020) Emotional closure and entrepreneurial exit. In: British Academy of Management (BAM) Conference 2020 : Innovating for a Sustainable Future; 02-04 Sept 2020, Manchester, U.K.. (British Academy of Management Proceedings)
Afrahi, Bahare (2020) Emotional closure and entrepreneurial exit. In: 11th Annual Faculty Research Conference: Contemporary Issues in Business and Social Science Research; 22 Jun 2020, Kingston upon Thames, U.K.. (Unpublished)
Afrahi, Bahare and Blackburn, Robert (2019) Entrepreneurs' exit strategies : the role of emotion. In: British Academy of Management (BAM) Conference 2019 : Building and Sustaining High Performance Organisations in Uncertain Times : Challenges and Opportunities; 03 - 05 Sep 2019, Birmingham, U.K.. ISBN 9780995641327
Afrahi, Bahare, Blenkinsopp, J., Fernandez de Aroyabe, J. C. and Karim, M. S. (2019) In defence of disengaged worker. In: 10th Annual Faculty Research Conference: Contemporary Issues in Business and Social Sciences in a period of uncertainty; 03 - 04 Jun 2019, Kingston upon Thames, U.K.. (Unpublished)
Afrahi, Bahare, Karim, Mohammed Shamsul and Fernandez de Arroyabe, Juan Carlos (2018) Entrepreneurs' emotional disengagement from business. In: British Academy of Management (BAM) Conference 2018: Driving Productivity in Uncertain and Challenging Times; 04-06 Sep 2018, Bristol, U.K.. ISBN 9780995641310
Afrahi, Bahare, Karim, M. S. and Fernandes de Arroyabe, J.C. (2018) Effect of entrepreneurs’ emotional disengagement on entrepreneurial exit strategies. In: 38th Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BCERC); 6-9 Jun 2018, Waterford, Ireland. (Unpublished)
Afrahi, Bahare, Fernandez de Arroyabe, Juan Carlos and Karim, Mohammed Shamsul (2017) Work disengagement: a systematic review of the evidence. In: British Academy of Management (BAM) Conference 2017: Re-Connecting Management Research with the Disciplines: Shaping the Research Agenda for the Social Sciences; 05 -07 Sep 2017, Coventry, U.K.. ISBN 9780995641303
2020 Small Business Leadership Project
Project Lead and Principle Investigator.
The Small Business Leadership Programme is designed to support senior leaders to enhance their business's resilience and recovery from the impact of COVID-19, and develop its potential for future growth and productivity.
Participants will develop strategic leadership skills and the confidence to make informed decisions to boost business performance.The practical curriculum will explore leadership, innovation, employee engagement, operational efficiency, marketing, sustainable practices, and finance.
The 10-week, fully-funded programme is free to participants and will be delivered online by small business and enterprise experts from Kingston Business School. The programme is designed to be manageable alongside full-time work.
Participants must be in senior management roles, with at least one direct report, in businesses which have been operating for at least one year and with 5-249 employees in England.
Benefits of taking part
Innovation and Markets: What is meant by innovation in business? How it impacts on productivity and how to respond and recover from challenges.
Leadership and Employee Engagement: Develop your leadership skills to have a positive effect on the performance of your business; and assess the key elements of employee engagement to achieve high performance.
Vision, Purpose and Brand: Explore your own leadership style and how to get the best out of the people around you; understanding the culture of your business.
Demand Creation and Customer Relationships: Identify key markets for your business and consider your approach to creating customer demand and building customer relationships.
Operational Efficiency: Build a strategic approach to operations management including the use of digital technologies
Finance and Financial Management: Understand the key elements and principles of financial management and the use of financial data to support strategic decision making in your business.
Action Planning and Implementation: Develop an action plan for resilience and productivity in your business, including what key tools and metrics are required to measure your performance.
2020.Business Basics Leading to Grow Programme:
Delivered by 15 business schools across England this project is funded by the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as part of their Business Basics Programme.
The programme aimed to test whether personalised, tailored support from a business school working with the business experts, an ‘Entrepreneur in Residence' (EiR), can help reduce the perceived constraints to survival and growth and increase efficiency for microbusinesses.
In addition to managing this project at Kingston I worked closely with microbusinesses (1-9 employees) who registered and acted as their Eirs. My 121 interventions aimed at increasing awareness of digital and new technologies, demonstrate their relevance to microbusinesses.
2019. International Review of the Features and Functioning of Digital Business Diagnostic Tools: Supporting SME Productivity Growth and Inclusive Entrepreneurship This study for OECD, led by Robert Blackburn with Hang Do, and Bahare Afrahi, develops case studies of digital diagnostic tools for small business owners in four countries (UK, Ireland, France, and Australia).
2019. The Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Students' Survey (GUESSS): Guesss is an international research project that examines the entrepreneurial intentions and activities of students using a geographical and temporal comparison. The eighth GUESSS edition was conducted in 2019 with 50 countries; more than 1000 universities, and more than 122,000 students took part.
2019. Productive Entrepreneurship: The project highlighted a range of effective policy approaches to developing a broad base of productive startups throughout the economy. The report provided an overview of policy approaches that have stimulated productive entrepreneurship across sectors and territories through support programmes and policy reforms delivered by the central government, directly or through entrepreneurship support institutions, subnational governments and other intermediary organisations.