My first research findings

The second part of the interview I gave last week (please see lat post).

Reporter: What were the findings?
Newton Campos: The main conclusion was that the social context, in this case “Latino”, had more importance in the process of enterprising than the level of economic development of countries and their institutions. That is, the incentives and obstacles that innovative entrepreneurs obtain from their networks in these countries are relatively similar, regardless of the country’s level of development, when comparing entrepreneurs who started from similar social classes.

The view from my window at the hotel in Campos do Jordao where I spent about 14 weeks (in about 12 trips) in order to have the dissertation done.

Reporter: Why considering the work relevant?
Newton Campos: Because it might enrich the global knowledge about the initial process of innovative entrepreneurial success in Latin countries. That is why I decided to follow a specific methodology that enables future comparison between entrepreneurs from different countries, and wrote the dissertation in English. Thus, a Chinese, Mexican or Indian could replicate the study for their region or compare their findings with ours. A proper debate on this process in emerging and developing countries is still starting.

Reporter: What was the theoretical contribution?
Newton Campos: In addition to confirming that the “social” is more important than the “economic” also in the Brazilian and Spanish context, as previously mentioned, I think it was the opening of a new line of research, the one I’m working today. This theory argues that the obstacles to entrepreneurs may be as important as the incentives that governments around the world relentlessly try to bring down today. These governmental bodies and universities should also be identifying obstacles that will generate truly innovative entrepreneurs in their regions instead of thinking only in breaking down barriers and even erroneously encouraging the emergence of new entrepreneurs who contribute nothing to the sustainable development of the world.

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Why I joined the academy

I just gave an interview to the magazine of the business school where I did my Ph.D., FGV-SP Fundação Getulio Vargas de São Paulo. Since the interview will be published in Portuguese and only in São Paulo city, I think I could make it public in advance in English for people interested in some debate on entrepreneurship. Since it is a bit long, I will publish it in two parts: one today and another next week.

Reporter: Why did you decide to join the academy?
Newton Campos: Because I was dissatisfied with the loss of focus on the intellectual journey that I was having after the MBA. The MBA is an eminently practical training, but that indirectly makes you think too much in the development of capitalism worldwide. I started reading authors each day more interesting and more complex, but could not follow an investigative line that could kill my doubts, I felt I needed guidance to facilitate my intellectual evolution and realized that the academic career would be one of the few which would value this type of questioning. So I started the doctoral program in 2006.

Reporter: What was your research question? I wanted a brief summary of your dissertation.
Newton Campos: My research was directed to the social context that surrounds the entrepreneurs during the development of their businesses in Latin countries. As “social context” one may consider the entire network of contacts established or used for business success. I need to clarify that I do not consider entrepreneur those who own small businesses or companies, these are micro or small business owners to me, which eventually may even become entrepreneurs. The research tradition that I follow considers entrepreneur only that person or group of people who innovate during the process of building a project or an organization. Plus, this innovation has to be considered socially or financially successful, otherwise we neither would be talking about an entrepreneur yet. Moreover, much of the existing literature on entrepreneurship in 2006 also put the entrepreneur in a “developed” social context, usually the U.S. or Europe, where the “rules of the game” (market rules and institutional ones) are established in a specific manner, usually very different from the rules that exist in different parts of the world. It was from this observation that I got my research question: How does the social context influences the entrepreneurs at the beginning of their enterprise in a developing country? But the claim was only one stage in the search for this response. During the search, before I even started the dissertation I made a trip to pre-earthquake Haiti (in 2007) to see if it would be possible to observe innovative entrepreneurs in a social context as politically and socially unstable as in a country like Haiti, which was already at that time among the 10 world’s poorest countries. To my surprise I found many innovative entrepreneurs, some even known throughout the Caribbean. Amazingly, the market innovation was there, present in one of the most miserable places on earth. After that, in the thesis itself, I did a comparative study between two countries relatively similar from a cultural standpoint, but different in terms of social and institutional development: Brazil and Spain.

In the next part of interview I will talk about findings and theoretical contributions of my research.

The solitude of a Ph.D. dissertation

Sometimes I feel this blog is a like a window where I can shout out loud about some of the disappointments and frustrations that I find during this magic moment of my life that I am not too young nor too old. It is like a diary that I can simply sit down and write, in 15 minutes, from anywhere I find internet, about some of the things that I would like to tell somebody I don’t know. Don’t you like sometimes to talk to the taxi driver or to the hairdresser about things that you wouldn’t talk to your colleagues in the job?

Well, when I started this Ph.D. program in Business about 5 years ago I knew it would be a challenge. I always had the dream of studying sociology but very much inspired by the business environment around me I decided to do accounting. I thought it would be a safer decision for a 17 years old boy (today I guess I was right), after all, I was curious to know the “language” of business. With the Ph.D. program, after a full-time MBA done abroad in Spain and India, a very practical and useful program by the way, I would have the opportunity to get back to the classics, to the theory, to read those books I always wanted to read and never had the time to do so and the opportunity to have endless talks about the notion of reality or faith, for example.

As I am in the last year of the program, I must say that I am partially happy with the results. I did have the opportunity to read many of the classics I wanted. I was able to get much deeper into the huge amount of sociology that exists behind most of the human sciences. I found out that the “geniuses” I’ve heard also committed mistakes and reached the wrong conclusions.

My greater disappointment, however, was with the conservativeness of professors and schools, with their ego and vanities, arrogance and protectionism. I don’t know why, I thought professors would be above such small issues, but unfortunately, few are the professors that don’t feel they are special because of the amount of information or reflections they had to go through. In the other hand, I found out that a great number of the people that follow an academic career in business either in Brazil or abroad, do it so due to their inability to succeed in business. Can you imagine that? Sad, isn’t it? They are bad in doing business so they get trained to teach you about it. That is life. And to complete this scenario of desolation within the academic world of business, the North-American rationality imposed over intellectual production took governments and universities to measure the quality of a professor and universities by the number of articles they publish in journals and books that nobody read. They created the so-called “publish or perish” policy. And people follow it all around the world! Life is really weird.

Campos do Jordao

Campos do Jordao

To be able to read and criticize dozens of books and articles at the same time for the dissertation, I force myself to a lonely trip to one of the most pleasant Brazilian towns, Campos do Jordão, located in the top of a mountain in the Atlantic Forest, only 2,5 hours driving from São Paulo. By doing that, I can sometimes reach to interesting conclusions about the topic I am studying (Entrepreneurship in Latin markets). I did that trip more than 10 times in the last years (the picture shows the view from my window). Sad I get when I take so much time to separate good studies from studies clearly made to satisfy some intellectual production “necessity”.