Academic Paper on iKen (published at ISBE conference in Paris).

By November 9, 2016News

Can “entrepreneurship” be learnt ?

Let me get straight to the answer, the answer is Yes. But just like everything that is complex, there is a big qualifier, “it depends”. It depends on what one defines entrepreneurship as. It depends on one’s social and economical conditioning value systems, personalities and motivations. Everyone has a favourite character in mind and pop culture often paints a very “heroic visionary” image that of one who saw something and risked everything to achieve it. The result often is many trying to emulate what they think are the right ways and loosing the sight of realities. There is also lot of focus on tools such as Business Canvases, Business Plans, Excel sheets, Growth hacking methods and pitch practices and funding. While all of this is useful something more fundamental is missing.

This was on our minds, when some of us started the side project iKen. We had a good format vetted by players of the eco system and like typical entrepreneurs decided that the practical result is the true justification of an idea. We decided to start all the way from beginning from first principles. Start with “Why become entrepreneurs?” and work our way from there. Our stand is/was “Entrepreneur” will always be center of their story and there is no replication and trying to blindly replicate will be useless and sometimes harmful. If you look at the popular success stories even seemingly copycat stories have a very different and not often highlighted stories in the background.

Meanwhile, due to good Karma and application of “crazy quilt” one of the iKen graduate and now an anchor, decided to academically document the process (recording the sessions and measure the outcomes v/s objectives). This got codified into an academic paper and even got accepted into a conference on entrepreneurship conducted by ISBE to being held in Paris (

And it turns out there is whole pantheon of academics worldwide studying this very subject and this year’s theme was just that. “Entrepreneurship in a context.”

Which is “ The entrepreneurial process is largely embedded in a given social and economic context. By way of example, we all know that entrepreneurial processes in developing countries – or countries in transition – are quantitatively and qualitatively different from what can be observed in developed countries. Consequently, entrepreneurship can be studied in different types of economic and cultural contexts and at multiple levels (individual, firm, industry, region). In such diversity, we would like to address and discuss key questions.

1) The training, education and preparation of entrepreneurs. How can the entrepreneurs of the future be better trained and prepared?

2) The environment of entrepreneurship and the understanding of the role played by context- sensitive factors that shape the evolution of the entrepreneurial processes. How can we make the environment more favorable and efficient for entrepreneurship?

3) Entrepreneurial activity and its behavioral, productive and performance-related dimensions. How can we better understand and measure the actions taken by entrepreneurs that do not always produce positive consequences and results?

4) How can entrepreneurship shape, and be shaped to create, social justice?

It was an onslaught of academic concepts, about 200 papers from 30countries only one of which (ours) is from India. A melting pot of policy makers, incubators, academics and pracademics (Practitioners who were also academics) going in depth about policy, creating and measuring eco system enablement and business enablement.

Given my track, I largely stuck to “Practitioner Learning”. The paper I presented generated lot of interest and agreements especially from Academics who are studying “Reflexive Studies”. Apparently Reflexivity refers to circular relationships between cause and effect. A reflexive relationship is bidirectional with both the cause and the effect affecting one another in a relationship in which neither can be assigned as causes or effects. To me this explained a lot about how stories in Entrepreneurship are told and listened to.

Ultimately the conference apart from being a food for thought, it reinforced what we at iKen do. We provide an environment for learning that acknowledges the stories but do not focus on “The path” and lets entrepreneur focus on his/her realities.

Read the full paper -> Full Paper !!.

(This blog was originally published as an article in Your Story (without the access to the paper)

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