Four research themes

Our unique research group aims to produce evidence-based knowledge, which helps microenterprises to develop, grow and internationalise. We show the diversity and characteristics of microenterprises by research that combines different research areas and qualitative and quantitative methods. We want to do academically and societally impacting research that is useful to both entrepreneurs and business service organisations. To collect and distribute research material we use our national MicroENTRE enterprises network™.

Our research group consists of about 15 researchers, of whom about a half are post doc –researchers and the other half are doctoral students. Operations of MicroENTRE are mainly funded by complementary and competitively tendered sources outside of the University. We have excellent know-how in planning, co-ordinating and executing research and development projects.

Our research focuses on the the following themes:

1) Growth, internationalization and management of micro-enterprises

2) Competence, values and motivation of micro entrepreneurs

3) The operating environment and societal impact of micro-enterprises

4) Entrepreneurship Education and Culture

Growth, internationalization and management of micro-enterprises

Our research topic is the characteristics of growth leadership in microenterprises during different stages of business, for example during growth, internationalisation or changes in business model. MicroENTRE has summarised leadership in technology and services start-up companies based on extensive literary overviews and compared growth leadership in different business environments (Finland, Sweden, Thailand, Taiwan, California) and in different industries (health tech, social and health services). Research-based knowledge in applied to developing digital tools for managing and leading growth (i.a. self-evaluation tool SolKI for businesses in social and health services, evaluation tool for digital maturity). Material collected via MicroENTRE enterprises network™ is used, for example, in developing the operation model and interactions of the peer network and in researching social learning in enterprises network.

Competence, values and motivation of micro entrepreneurs

Economical indicators (revenue, the number of employees) are common indicators to evaluate the growth of companies and they are often used to measure their success. Many micro entrepreneurs, however, have other motivations and goals for their business, which they use to evaluate their success. The researchers of MicroENTRE wish to survey the varying motivations and values which drive micro entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs also have different viewpoints in defining growth and success. Understanding this helps to develop business-related systems and services that even meet the needs of the leaders in the smallest of enterprises. Recognising the level of the entrepreneurs’ know-how and developing different areas of business, for example selling and developing business-minded companies, are also a part of our research topic.

The operating environment and societal impact of micro-enterprises

Micro enterprises make up nearly 95 percent of Finnish companies and their meaning to both the national economy and employment is significant. Micro enterprises, however, are often not specifically classified in official statistics or in important research. The goal of MicroENTRE is to produce information and to provoke discussion about the societal meaning of micro enterprises. Their operational environment and its changes affect directly existing companies and the amount of new ones founded. This research topic focuses on, for example, operational environment in areas of structural change and the characteristics of northern and sparsely populated areas from micro enterprises’ point of view.

Entrepreneurship Education and Culture

MicroENTRE co-ordinated the entrepreneurship education strategy of the region on North Ostrobothnia. It is currently ongoing and our research is focused on the strategy itself and on monitoring the maturity of entrepreneurship-minded culture. We want to examine the attitudes of teachers, students and entrepreneurs towards entrepreneurship and the views on entrepreneurship atmosphere around the land. We also analyse the attitudes regarding micro entrepreneurship created and conveyed by the media.

MicroENTRE is a regional member of YES-entrepreneurship education network in North Ostrobothia. Our aim is to build international research collaboration focusing on entrepreneurship education.