How Babson is Improving the Relevance and Reach of Scholarly Research
Too often, academic research is buried in jargon that no one can understand. The best academic research changes how people view their world and do their jobs. Scholarly study of entrepreneurship can help practicing entrepreneurs improve their chance of success.
Babson College has become recognized for its efforts to translate the results of scholarly research into meaningful advice for practicing entrepreneurs. Three interrelated initiatives -- the Babson College Entrepreneurial Research Conference (BCERC), the Doctoral Consortium (DC) and the Research Translation Showcase – help make this happen.
About the BCERC
Founded by Babson College in 1981, BCERC is considered by many to be the top entrepreneurship research conference in the world. The Entrepreneurial Research Conference was established to provide a dynamic venue where academics and real-world practitioners, through spirited dialogue, could link theory and practice. Each year, the conference attracts between 550 and 750 submissions for 220 presentation slots, and 350 entrepreneurial scholars attend and participate in the conference, including doctoral students currently working on their dissertations. The scholars use the conference to gain valuable feedback on their research papers, as they strive for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Because our 2021 conference was virtual, we were able to add more sessions and invite more people, and had a record 585 attendees.
The Doctoral Consortium (DC)
The DC was started in 1985 and it has been part of BCERC ever since. Every year 75-100 doctoral students apply for the 25 spots. Many leading entrepreneurship scholars have attended the consortium, which helped launch their careers: Dean Shepherd of Notre Dame, Candy Brush of Babson College, Jeff McMullen of Indiana, Johan Wiklund of Syracuse University, and many others. The consortium encourages doctoral students to interact with leading scholars before, during and after the conference. On the day before the conference, the scholars work with the students on a variety of academic topics. The students then participate fully in the regular conference and are assigned to be session chairs for the paper sessions. On the last day of the conference students share what they’ve learned. The DC, along with the main conference, helps the students make valuable connections and find opportunities for ongoing research collaborations. The Kauffman Foundation and the Society for the Advancement of Management Studies (SAMS) are regular sponsors.
The Research Translation Showcase
The first Research Translation Showcase was in 2020. In collaboration with The Kauffmann Foundation, it was designed to create an opportunity for doctoral students to share their leading edge research with practitioners. Most practitioners don’t read peer-reviewed journals, so the research needs to be translated into a more practitioner-friendly version to have a real impact on business owners’ success.
Following the template of Harvard Business Review Online, we work with the doctoral students to create a bite-sized summary of what their research means for practice. You can read all 50 research translations here (2021 Research Translation Showcase and 2020 Research Translation Showcase). Many professors download the translations as supplemental readings for their courses.
Helping Doctoral Students Have More Impact
Considerable time is spent helping the students transition their research to a practitioner-friendly format. For our first two Research Translation Showcases (2020-21), Professors Lakshmi Balachandra of Babson College and Lauren Ofstein of Western Michigan University asked the students to submit their drafts a few weeks before the DC. They then read and critiqued the drafts. On the first day of the DC, the professors led a session on best practices for creating research translations and returned the drafts to the students. During the conference the students revised and created a final version of their translations. On the last day of the DC, the students turned in their revised translations, which were posted to the BCERC Research Translation website and are freely available for download. We had more than 1400 downloads of the translations posted in 2020, and for 2021 we’ve had 1100 downloads so far. The Kauffman Foundation underwrites a $1000 award for the best translation.
Here are two examples of great research translations by doctoral students:
Lauren A. Zettel, University of Louisville, USA, The Reality of Being a Parent and an Entrepreneur: Some Good News
Marius Jones, NHH Norwegian School of Economics, Norway. Don’t Calm Down! From Individual Affect Regulation To Collective Affect Elevation In Startups.