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Enterprise, Entrepreneurship & Innovation


This multi-disciplinary research strand has a focus on the role that enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation play in the economy and contemporary society, with two key themes:

  • The factors that support enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation at the micro level of the firm or organisation
  • The design, development and evaluation of interventions to promote enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation in the economy

Research focus

Today, the world’s societies face severe economic and social challenges. The search for new sources of growth comes at a time when many developed countries have stagnating or declining populations and struggle to achieve the productivity improvements necessary to improve the standard of living for their citizens: future growth must increasingly come from enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation through the introduction of new or improved products, processes and methods. This leads to a core question considered by the research group: “How can leaders in organisations and policy makers create an environment where enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation can flourish in an increasingly complex and competitive economy?”

Our international studies are currently exploring enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation from a variety of perspectives. These include the design, development and delivery of learning opportunities for start-up entrepreneurs and enterprises seeking to scale up; the development of leadership and management capability in family businesses; development and quality assurance of business mentors; research in the Fintech, agri-business and tourism sectors of the economy; the creation and reporting of value in organisations; the identification and communication of good practice associated with inward investment and SME internationalisation; and innovative teaching and learning strategies for sustainable development.

The group’s work includes research associated with business start-up, sustainability and scale-up; innovation eco-systems; family business; futures; and the development of enterprise in teaching and learning. The group uses a range of research methods and approaches, often action oriented in nature, to co-create practical intelligence and to promote evidence informed change in a variety of institutional settings. The group’s research themes inform developments in academic theory, leadership and management practice, organisational strategy and public policy.

Research projects

Plus Icon November 2018 – April 2021: Innovative Solutions for Sustainability in Education (ISSUE)

Professor Devins with Fiona Robertson, Brian Jones and Albane Rasha.  An international project funded under Erasmus Strategic Partnerships. The project lays the foundations for sustainable development in Higher Education Institutions and develops and tests innovative teaching and learning strategies to promote sustainability amongst tomorrow’s leaders.

Plus Icon April 2018 – ongoing: The development of entrepreneurship in the agri-food sector

Dr Suneel Kunamaneni and Dr Alfred Chinta.  An international project funded by the British Council in the UK and the University Grants Commission in India which explores the potential for entrepreneurial and innovation practices in the agri-food sector in both countries. 

Plus Icon November 2017- October 2019: Business Mentor training and Certification (MentorCert)

Professor David Devins with Dr Nick Beech and Professor Bob Garvey.   An international project funded under Erasmus Strategic Partnerships which seeks to promote university-business partnerships through the development of intelligence to enable business mentors to operate in clusters of strategic importance and to develop a pathway for business mentors towards ISO 1704 certification.


Plus Icon October 2017 – present: European Commission, INTERREG Funding Scheme, COMPETE IN project.

Professor Devins and Dr Martina Topic. The project involves the identification, analysis and sharing of international good practice and enabling factors for increasing competitiveness of SMEs in the UK and partner countries.

Plus Icon March 2017 – June 2018: AdVenture

Professor David Devins with the support of academics drawn from a range of subject groups. An action oriented intervention seeking to design, develop and deliver innovative learning opportunities for entrepreneurs and start-up businesses seeking to grow in the digital sectors of the economy.

Plus Icon December 2016- December 2018: FAMily BusinEss Sustainability and growth (FAME)

Professor David Devins with Dr Brian Jones, Dr Nick Beech, Dr Raz Razaq. An international project funded under Erasmus Strategic Partnerships which develops masters level modules, on-line learning materials and work-based learning for students, leaders and managers of family firms.

Plus Icon October 2014 - December 2016: Small and Medium Sized Enterprises; Deliberative Engagement (SME-DE)

Professor Ralph Tench with Professor David Devins and Ben Mitchell. This international project was funded by the Erasmus programme and developed a demand-driven executive programme and supporting materials to equip business intermediaries with a new set of capabilities and business tools to enable them to engage with SME’s seeking to solve common and complex business sustainability problems.

Plus Icon November 2013-April 2015: Work Based Learning as an integrated curriculum (WBLIC)

Professor David Devins with Jayne Mothersdale and Sallyann Halliday.  This international project funded by the European Union Lifelong Learning (ERASMUS) programme led to a research informed framework which matches the development and delivery of work-based learner experiences with employer (small and large) and labour market needs.

Research outputs

Plus Icon Selected peer-reviewed journal articles
  • Devins, D. and Reynolds, M. (2018) In search of relevance. The value of Work Based Learning. International Enterprise Education: Perspectives on Theory and Practice’. Oxon/NY: Routledge
  • Willis, P, Tench, R. and Devins D. (2018) Deliberative Engagement and wicked problems. From good intentions to practical action in Johnston, K. A., & Taylor, M. (Eds). The handbook of communication engagement. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell
  • Devins, D. and Jones B. (2016) Strategy for succession in family owned small businesses as a wicked problem to be tamed. Budapest Management Review. November 2016. pp 4-15
  • Ferrandez-Berrueco, M.R., Kekale, T. and Devins, D. (2016) A Framework for Work-Based Learning: Basic Pillars and the interactions between them. Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning. Vol 6 Issue 1. Jan 2016. pp35-54
  • Devins, D., Lodorfos, G., Kostopoulos, I. and Webber, D (2015). Innovation and Growth in the City Region: Microeconomic Evidence of Asymmetries. International Journal of Innovation Management. Vol 20, Issue 2. pp 1-15
  • Devins, D., Ferrandez-Berrueco, M.R. and Kekale, T. (2015) Educational orientation and employer influenced pedagogy; practice and policy insights from three higher education programmes in Europe. Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning. Vol 5 Iss 4. Nov 2015. Pp 352-368
Plus Icon Selected research monographs/outputs
  • Devins, D.. Gold, J., Boak, G., Garvey, R. and Willis, P. (2017) Maximising the local impact of anchor institutions: a case study of the Leeds City Region. York. Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
  • Tench, R.; Devins, D.; Willis; Mitchell, C.; Brusati, L.; Frandsen, F.; Fadele, P.; Lacuzzi, S.; Ianniello, M.; Johansen, W.; Knudesen, G., & Dimitrova, T. (2016). Complexity Engagement: Stakeholders, Collaboration and Challenging Problems. Haftad.

Plus other members of subject groups and related doctoral research students.

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