Professor Bahare Afrahi


As a business development expert with both practical and academic knowledge and a strong background in innovation, entrepreneurship, and small business growth, I have a proven track record of developing and delivering successful business support programmes. My expertise lies in providing mentoring and coaching to entrepreneurs and teams, empowering them to overcome challenges and achieve their goals.

I possess exceptional analytical and strategic thinking skills, enabling me to navigate complex business landscapes and identify opportunities for growth. My ability to cultivate innovation in teams has made me an effective leader. Moreover, my experience in initiating and leading impactful businesses, and, external projects with small and large teams has allowed me to drive various projects to successful completion while empowering my team members to perform at their best.

I am particularly passionate about design thinking, innovation, employee engagement, and entrepreneurs' health and well-being. Design thinking is a humanity-centered approach to problem-solving that focuses on empathy, ideation, prototyping, and testing. I have successfully applied this approach in various fields, including entrepreneurship, where it helps identify unmet needs and create innovative solutions. Employee engagement is also a critical factor for business success, and my expertise in this area allows me to design strategies that improve productivity, commitment, and creativity.

Furthermore, my academic expertise in entrepreneurs' health and well-being for their business success has allowed me to integrate design thinking principles to help entrepreneurs develop innovative solutions that address their unique health and well-being needs. For example, I have designed wellness programmes that cater to their physical, mental, and emotional health needs.

I am proud to have led the 4 Million SME Growth Programme, a flagship initiative aimed at supporting small businesses to grow and scale. This program has helped over 500 entrepreneurs to achieve their business goals and create sustainable growth.

In addition, I have founded the Innovation Playground, a platform that connects entrepreneurs with learners, allowing them to access the resources they need to succeed. This platform has created a supportive ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship, enabling many entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into successful businesses.

My expertise in design thinking, innovation, employee engagement, and entrepreneurs' health and well-being allows me to create innovative solutions that improve employee engagement and well-being while driving business success. I am passionate about empowering entrepreneurs to achieve their goals, and I look forward to working with like-minded individuals to make a positive impact on the business world.

If you are interested in me supervising your PhD work on Design Thinking or Entrepreneurs' health and well-being, send a short and focused proposal and include your CV to and I get back to you.

Academic responsibilities

Course Director Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, Programme Director Help to Grow Management


  • PhD in Entrepreneurship (University of Essex)
  • MSc in Research Business (University of Liverpool)
  • MBA in Marketing-Finance (Hanken School of Economics)
  • Fellowship of Higher Education Academy (HEAF)
  • Certified Management & Business Educator
  • Coaching Certificate
  • Innovation Championship (Stanford University)

Teaching and learning

As a strategic leader in the field of entrepreneurship and innovation, I am committed to providing high-quality teaching that benefits students and contributes to the development of knowledge in the subject. With expertise in design thinking and experiential learning, I design, develop, and evaluate courses that keep students up to date with the latest trends and insights in the field.

My aim is to empower students to achieve their full potential by creating innovative teaching activities and personalised learning experiences. I constantly seek out new approaches to teaching and learning, including the use of AI in my modules to provide students with the resources and tools they need to improve their outcomes.

In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I am committed to contributing to knowledge development in my subject. By staying informed about the latest trends and insights in entrepreneurship and innovation, I am able to contribute to the development of subject material and build professional networks in my areas of expertise.

Examples of my contributions to knowledge exchange and development are Innovation Playground, the widely recognised global PhD training that I have initiated the British Academy of Management (BAM), and the Help to Grow Management Programme for SME owners.  

Qualifications and expertise

  • Design Thinking
  • Innovation for Humanity
  • User Experience (UX)
  • Stanford University Teaching and Learning Innovation Certified
  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy
  • Teaching from Back of the Room

Undergraduate courses taught

Postgraduate courses taught


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

  • Unisa Dizo-Conteh (2020)
  • Sopreye Thompson (2021)
  •  Andre Mostert (2021)
  • Niki Richards (2022)

Qualifications and expertise

  • Structural Equation Modelling
  • FDS
  • Data Visualisation

Areas of specialism

  • Business Exit
  • Work Disengagement - Work Engagement
  • Entrepreneurs Health and Well-being

Scholarly affiliations

  • External examiner, Birkbeck, University of London
  • British Academy of Management Entrepreneurship Group
  • Academy of Management Entrepreneurship Group

Research student supervision


Number of items: 11.


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

Conference or Workshop Item

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 and Blackburn, Robert (2020) Emotion and business exit. In: 80th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management; 07 - 11 Aug 2020, Held online.

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

Afrahi, Bahare (2016) Entrepreneurs’ disengagement. In: British Academy of Management (BAM) 2016 Doctoral Symposium; 5 Sep 2016, Newcastle, U.K.. (Unpublished)


Afrahi, Bahare (2019) Disengagement and entrepreneurial exit. (PhD thesis), University of Essex, .

This list was generated on Thu Mar 30 07:10:22 2023 BST.

Business, knowledge transfer and international

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

  • Develop your strategic capability to plan for the future of your business, and to ensure that your business is in a great position to recover from the impact of COVID-19.
  • Learn how to make your business more productive and resilient.
  • Support you to develop your management and leadership skills, and increase your confidence to make better decisions, boost business performance and become more effective.
  • Provide a reflective and practical programme tailored to support your business. Apply your learning to your business
  • Help you to build lasting relationships with a network of small business leaders and business experts in your region.
  • Create an innovative, productive and agile organisational culture able to drive growth.
  • Support you to embed responsible business practices.

Programme format

  • A structured programme of eight 90-minute webinars over the course of 10 weeks. You will also be required to complete up to two hours of independent study and peer supported learning per week.
  • Delivered online whilst social distancing measures are in place.
  • Develop a network of up to 20 other small business leaders and opportunities for peer-learning.
  • Facilitated by small business experts in Kingston Business School
  • A practical curriculum which will help you to develop leadership skills to improve performance in your business.

Programme content

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.

Learning outcomes

  • Develop an action plan for resilience and productivity in your business.
  • Understand how innovation can impact productivity and help you to respond and recover from challenges.
  • Reflect on your leadership style and build on your leadership skills to improve your business's performance.
  • Develop your business's vision and values for the long term sustainability of your business
  • Assess employee engagement and identify actions to achieve high performance
  • Outline a strategic approach to operations management, efficiency, and value creation in your business

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.

Qualifications and PROFESSIONAL expertise

  • Project Leadership
  • Project management
  • Entrepreneur in Residence
  • Small Business Solutions

Professional practice, knowledge exchange and impact

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.

Qualifications and expertise

  • Quantitative Research
  • Data Analysis
  • Policy Impact

Professional and scholarly affiliations

  • Field Expert: UK parliament

Social media

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