Professor David Rae

Job: Professor of Enterprise

School/department: Leicester Castle Business School

Address: Hugh Aston Building, De Montfort University.

T: +44 (0)116 257 7911




Personal profile

David Rae is a leading innovator, researcher and expert in entrepreneurship and small business leadership, learning and management.

He has a significant track record in the leadership of business and enterprise in Higher Education as a key member of the Senior Leadership and Executive Management groups in four Universities, where he has developed new opportunities and income streams based on enhancing innovation, research, enterprise and learning.

He has held senior roles as Executive Dean, Research & Knowledge Exchange at Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln; and as Dean of Shannon School of Business, Cape Breton University, Canada.  Previously he was Professor of Business & Enterprise, Head of Postgraduate Programmes and Director of Enterprise & Innovation at the University of Lincoln Business School, between 2006-14; and Director of Enterprise Development and Head of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Management at The Derbyshire Business School, University of Derby from 2001-2006.

He gained his PhD in Entrepreneurial Learning from the Nottingham Trent University, and has led innovative research in this area since 1999, gaining recognition through numerous publications and awards for research excellence. His 2007 book ‘Entrepreneurship – from opportunity to action’ influenced entrepreneurship education practice internationally and the 2nd edition, ‘Opportunity-Centred Entrepreneurship’ was published in 2015. His pre-academic career included running a management development and consulting practice; working in Government in training & enterprise policy; and multimedia publishing.

He has achieved professional and academic recognition at international level for his contributions to entrepreneurship research, education, policy and regional development, and as an inspirational keynote speaker at international and professional conferences.

A key skill is his ability to connect academic, business, professional and community, and policy leaders and audiences, to engage and develop them through proactive innovation, learning and change. Effective communication, including use of new media, enables him to develop his profile and impact as an academic expert in entrepreneurship and related topics with a strong media profile, featured articles, online presentations and Twitter.

Research group affiliations

Centre for Enterprise & Innovation – De Montfort University

Lincolnshire Open Research & Innovation Centre – Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln

Research interests/expertise

A continuing research interest is in the connections between creativity, learning and entrepreneurial behaviour. This has produced many internationally recognised contributions to research in entrepreneurial learning, enterprise education, and associated fields.


  • Entrepreneurial leadership and management in small, sustainable and growing businesses
  • Community economic and social development; the roles of social enterprise and innovation
  • Peripherality and centrality in entrepreneurial learning and development
  • The contributions of Open Research, Innovation and Data in entrepreneurial development

Areas of teaching

  • Entrepreneurship at postgraduate (MBA), practitioner and undergraduate levels
  • Innovation, organisational creativity and successful applications
  • Entrepreneurial leadership
  • Social innovation and enterprise
  • Qualitative research methods (doctoral): inspiration from interpretation and innovation


2003 - The Nottingham Trent University, PhD: ‘Entrepreneurial identity and capability: the role of learning’

1995 - University of Sheffield, Master of Education in Training & Development

1988 - Leeds Business School, postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies

1988 - Institute of Training & Development, Cert. In Training & Development

1981 - University of Bristol, BA (Hons) in English & History class 2.1

Courses taught

I have taught a range of entrepreneurship courses at all levels including 1st degree, postgraduate, and doctoral, at international level. I also have extensive experience of teaching business owners and practitioners, including entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs, courses including entrepreneurial leadership; small and growth business strategy. I have developed and used widely the ‘Opportunity Centred Entrepreneurship’ approach (Rae, 2015). I have taught diverse aspects of creative and innovation management, and qualitative research methods at postgraduate and doctoral level.

Membership of external committees

  • Member of the steering group to oversee the Leadership Foundation for HE-led ‘What Works: Proof of concept initiative’ for the 2017-18 academic year.
  • Director of Enterprise Educators UK, responsible for the Enterprise Education and Research Project Fund (2016-19).
  • Fellow of the Institute for Small Business & Entrepreneurship; previously Board member and trustee from 2007-13 and Vice-President for Education for 2008-12. 
  • Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research from 2012-14.
  • Advisor to government agencies on enterprise education in HE in both the UK and Canada.
  • Member and key contributor to the QAA Graduate Enterprise and Entrepreneurship group which produced internationally recognised guidelines for enterprise & entrepreneurship in HE (2011-12),
  • Member of the Enterprise Society Steering Group advising the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills (2011-12)
  • Visiting Professor, Aarhus Business School, Aarhus University, Denmark, 2013-15.
  • Visiting Professor, Staffordshire Business School, University of Stafford, 2012-15.
  • Chair and member of numerous programme validation boards.

Current member of the Editorial Boards for:

  • International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research
  • Journal of Small Business & Enterprise Development
  • Industry & Higher Education

Membership of professional associations and societies

Fellow of the Institute for Small Business & Entrepreneurship

Member, Enterprise Educators UK

Committee Member, Friends of the Great Central Main Line

Forthcoming events

Keynote Speaker: 8th International Conference on Business and Information 2017, University of Kelaniya, Colombo, Sri Lanka, November 2017

Conference attendance

Keynote Speaker: 8th International Conference on Business and Information 2017, University of Kelaniya, Colombo, Sri Lanka, November 2017

Keynote speaker: KEEN Winter Conference, Tempe, Arizona, January 2015: Creating value from entrepreneurship, opportunities & learning

Community Innovation and Social Enterprise Conference, Cape Breton University, Canada, July 2015: ‘How can Open Data inform community economic development?’

Atlantic Schools of Business conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia, September 2014: ‘Developing Entrepreneurial Leadership for Sustainable Organisations’

Annual contributions to UK Institute for Small Business & Entrepreneurship conferences, 2004-2013; Track Leader of the ISBE ‘Advancing Entrepreneurship & Enterprise Education’ conference track from 2007-10

Consultancy work

The combined value of the projects I have initiated or led is over £7.5 million. These included:

Lincolnshire Open Research & Innovation Centre, European Structural Investment Fund, awarded 2017

‘Business Inspiration’ entrepreneurial leadership for innovation & growth in Lincolnshire, European Structural Investment Fund, awarded 2017

‘Regulation and compliance by small business’ report for East Midlands Development Agency, April 2008

‘Designing a High Growth Academy’ report for East Midlands Development Agency, February 2007

‘Graduate career choices and entrepreneurship: an action research project’ for the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship, April 2006, Research Report 007/2006

 ‘Stimulating entrepreneurship in Derbyshire’: a report on the role of enterprise for Derby and Derbyshire Economic Partnership, April 2005 

Current research students

Erin Peak, PhD researcher on assessment methodologies in entrepreneurial learning, Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln [1st supervisor]

Graham Meeson, the role of first-line leadership in managing change in smaller Higher Education Institutions [1st supervisor]

Externally funded research grants information

‘Learning From Our Place in the Global Economy’ and ‘Opportunities for Our Supply Chains’, Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Jan-March 2012

Service redesign, Lincolnshire Probation Trust offender management, 2010-11.

‘The 2010 Survey of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education’, NCGE, Oct 2010

‘The impact of the recession on East Midlands HEIs’ report for East Midlands Universities Association, March 2010

Responsibility for directing applied research & intervention projects undertaken at Lincoln, including:

  • ERDF ‘Access Innovation’ programme on ‘Innovation for Productivity & Competitiveness’ for graduates working with small rural businesses, 2008-11;
  • ‘Robust Futures’ project to enable Lincolnshire SMEs to develop recovery strategies from the recession, 2009-11;
  • ESRC Third sector capacity-building cluster project on active citizenship, 2008-13 (Project Director).
  • A series of commissioned research studies conducted by the Enterprise Research & Development Unit for agencies including East Midlands Development Agency, East Midlands Universities Association, Lincolnshire Enterprise, Lincolnshire County Council, Newark & Sherwood District Council, Federation of Small Businesses, and others.

Professional esteem indicators

Fellow of the Institute for Small Business & Entrepreneurship, having been Board member and trustee from 2007-13 and Vice-President for Education for 2008-12. 

Visiting Professor, Aarhus Business School, Aarhus University, Denmark, 2013-15.

Visiting Professor, Staffordshire Business School, University of Stafford, 2012-15.

Current member of the Editorial Boards for:

  • International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research
  • Journal of Small Business & Enterprise Development
  • Industry & Higher Education

Guest editor of special issues of the above journals.

Case studies

Examples of evidence of the ‘Impact’ of research e.g. references to reviews/articles in main stream media, examples of feedback from users, exhibition attendance figures

Impact case studies including my work on entrepreneurship education were submitted for the REF 2014 submissions from University of Lincoln and University of Derby Business Schools.

Refereed Articles

From 2008


Rae, D. (2017). Entrepreneurial Learning: Peripherality and Connectedness, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research. Vol:23, iss:3, pp1-19.

Rae, D. (2017). Developing entrepreneurial leadership: the challenge for sustainable organisations, International Journal for Work Innovation, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp76-100.

Rae, D. & Melton, D. (2016). Defining an entrepreneurial mindset in US engineering education: an international view of the KEEN project, Journal of Engineering Entrepreneurship, Vol 7 no. 3 pp1-16.

Rae, D. Matlay, H. McGowan, P. Penaluna, A. (2014). Freedom or prescription: the case for curriculum guidance in enterprise and entrepreneurship education, Industry & Higher Education ,Vol 28, No 6, pp387-398

Rae, D. (2014). Graduate entrepreneurship and career initiation in the ‘New Era’ economy, Journal of General Management, Vol 40 No. 1 - Autumn 2014.

Rae, D. (2013). The contribution of momentary perspectives to entrepreneurial learning and creativity, Industry & Higher Education,  Vol 27, No 6, pp 407–420.

David Rae, Naomi Ruth Woodier-Harris (2013). How does Enterprise & Entrepreneurship Education influence postgraduate students’ career intentions in the New Era economy? Education + Training, Vol 55 no.8-9.

Price, L., Rae, D., Cini, V. (2013). ‘SME Perceptions of the Economic Recovery: a Longitudinal Survey’, Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 20, Iss: 3.

David Rae, Liz Price, Gary Bosworth and Paul Parkinson. (2013) ‘ Business Inspiration: small business leadership in recovery?’ Industry & Higher Education, vol 26.6, pp473-490.

David Rae, Naomi Woodier-Harris, (2012) ‘International entrepreneurship education: Postgraduate business student experiences of entrepreneurship education’, Education + Training, Volume 54 issue 8/9, pp. 639 – 656.

David Rae, Lynn Martin, Valerie Antcliff, Paul Hannon, (2012) "Enterprise and entrepreneurship in English higher education: 2010 and beyond", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 19 Iss: 3, pp.380 – 40

Highly Commended Award Winner at the Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2013.

‘Action Learning in New Creative Ventures’, (2012). International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research Vol 18, No 5., pp603-623

Matthew C. Draycott, David Rae, Katie Vause, (2011) ‘The Assessment of Enterprise Education in the Secondary Sector: a new approach?’ Education & Training, Vol. 53 Iss: 8/9, pp.673 – 691.

Draycott, M. & Rae, (20110. ‘Enterprise education in schools and the role of competency frameworks.’ D. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, Vol 17 No 2, pp 127-145.

‘Yliopistot ja yrittajyyskasvatus: vastaus uuden aikakauden haasteisiin’, Yrittajamainen oppiminem: tavoitteita, toimintaaja tuloksia, Heinonen, J. Hytti, U, Tiikkala A. , Turun yliopisto 2011.

Rae, D. (2010). ‘Universities and enterprise education: responding to the challenges of the new era.’, Journal of Small Business & Enterprise Development, Vol 17 No 4, pp. 591-60

Rae, D. (2009). ‘Connecting entrepreneurial and action learning in student-initiated new business ventures: the case of SPEED’ Action Learning: Research & Practice, Issue 6(3) Autumn 2009

Rae, D. (2009). ‘ Entrepreneurship:  Too Risky to Let Loose in a Stormy Climate?’ International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Vol 10(2), pp 137-147, 2009

Rae, D. (2009). ‘Creating an enterprise culture in a university: The role of an entrepreneurial learning team’ Industry and Higher Education, June 2009

Rae, D. (2008). ‘Riding out the storm: Graduates, enterprise and careers in turbulent economic times.’, ‘Education & Training’ Vol.  50 No. 8-9 November 2008


Rae, D. (2015). ‘Opportunity-Centred Entrepreneurship, Palgrave MacMillan, 2015

Rae, D. & Wang, C. (eds) (2015). Entrepreneurial Learning: New Perspectives in Research, Education and Practice, Routledge, 2015

Rae, D. (2007). ‘Entrepreneurship – from opportunity to action’ Palgrave MacMillan, 2007

Rae, D. (1999). ‘The Entrepreneurial Spirit: Learning to unlock value.’ Blackhall Publishing, Dublin, 1999.

Book Chapters

Rae, D. (2015). ‘The Contribution of Momentary Perspectives to Entrepreneurial Learning and Creativity’ in ‘Entrepreneurial Learning: New Perspectives in Research, Education and Practice’, Rae, D. & Wang, C. (eds) Routledge, 2015.

Rae, D. (2014). ‘Momentary Perspectives in Entrepreneurial Learning’ in Enterprising Initiatives in the Experience Economy Transforming Social Worlds edited by Britta Timm Knudsen, Dorthe Refslund Christensen and Per Blenker, Routledge, 2014.

Rae, D. (2014). ‘Dr Harry Goes to Grantham: A Momentary Perspective on Narrative Construction, Omission & Interpretation’ in Untold Stories in Organizations, Edited by Michal Izak, Linda Hitchin, David Anderson, Routledge, 2014.

Rae, D. (2011). ‘Action Learning in New Creative Ventures’ in Entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries – an international perspective, (vol. 2) (Edward Elgar Press, 2011)

Rae, D. (2010). ‘The role of an entrepreneurial learning team in creating an enterprise culture in a university’ with Simon Gee and Robert Moon in Handbook Of Research In Entrepreneurship Education, Volume 3 International Perspectives, ed. A Fayolle (Edward Elgar Press, 2010)

Rae, D. (2007). ‘The Creative Industries in the UK’ in Entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries – an international perspective, (Edward Elgar Press, 2007)

Rae, D. (2007). ‘Mid-career entrepreneurship’ in Career choice in management and entrepreneurship: a research companion (Edward Elgar Press, 2007),

Rae, D. (2007). ‘EasyJet: a case of entrepreneurial management?’, in Strategic Management in Aviation, Critical essays, ed. Lawton (Ashgate, 2007).

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