No takers for entrepreneurship research in the world’s fastest-growing startup ecosystem

Image: EPA/Grzegorz Momot
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Despite India being the world’s fastest-growing startup ecosystem, entrepreneurial research is almost an alien concept in the country.

Between 2000 and 2015, only 177 doctorate degrees (PhDs) in entrepreneurship were awarded by the country’s 740 recognised universities, according to a recent study by the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), a Gujarat-based autonomous not-for-profit establishment. Data for the study was sourced from the Association of Indian Universities, an organisation of all major public and private universities in the country.

This means that PhDs in entrepreneurship made for less than 1% of the total 20,271 doctorates awarded in the social sciences in India during the period.

“Entrepreneurship research is not progressing as much as other disciplines of social science are. The subject needs much more focus to ensure its development,” said Kavita Saxena, associate faculty at EDII.

The subject has, however, picked up in recent years, inspired by the success of early startups, according to the annual break-up of scholars pursuing research in this area.

In 2015, when at least one Indian startup was funded every eight hours, only seven researchers were awarded PhDs in entrepreneurship in the country:

Maharashtra and Karnataka, states that house the startup hubs Mumbai and Bengaluru, respectively, had the most number of entrepreneurial researchers in the 16 years from 2000.

The worst-performing states were Jammu & Kashmir, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tripura, and West Bengal.

When it comes to entrepreneurship, there is a stark gender divide globally, with the space being dominated by men. The trend is no different in India, and it reflects in entrepreneurial studies.

With estimates showing that the number of startups in India will more than double to 10,500 by 2020, the study said that there was a need for universities to focus on providing “methodological education, training, and research in entrepreneurship,” and for companies to collaborate with academia for mentorship and support.

“Department of doctoral research (at the various Indian universities) can establish linkages with existing corporate and family business enterprises so that opportunities for evidence-based research can be explored,” the study said. “This can be used to overcome the divide between knowledge developed in the field of entrepreneurship and its use in practice.”