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Dr Kassa Woldesenbet

Job: Associate Professor in Research and Deputy Director of the Centre for Enterprise and Innovation

Faculty: Business and Law

School/department: Leicester Castle Business School

Research group(s): Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Research

Address: The Gateway, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 207 8528

E: kwoldesenbet@dmu.ac.uk

W: https://www.dmu.ac.uk/cei

 

Personal profile

Kassa Woldesenbet is Associate Professor in Research and Deputy Director of the Centre for Enterprise and Innovation. He works assisting the Associate Dean for Research in strategic and operational matters, leading and supporting research development, increasing evidence base of Business and Law (BAL) research activities working with Director of the research centres/institutes and departmental research coordinators.  He research cuts across disciplinary areas including inclusive  entrepreneurship in context; entrepreneurial means and resouces; strategic management; SMEs and  supply diversity;  institutional environment; and top management teams and business management in transition economies. The research process and publications from the research have led to a substantial knowledge creation and user engagement with notable impacts. He was a lead academic researcher on the ‘Supply to the Public Sector’ project funded by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by the Leicester City Council.  Working on the intersection between theory, policy and practice, his work provides important insights into issues relating to small businesses, ethnic minority entrepreneurship, diversity and enterprise. Further, he studies how senior managers in transition/developing economies manage businesses using a variety of themes such as legitimacy, institutional logics, rhetoric, sensemaking and learning.

Research group affiliations

Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship

Centre for Enterprise and Innovation

Publications and outputs

  • Deconstructing the myth: African women entrepreneurs’ access to resources
    Deconstructing the myth: African women entrepreneurs’ access to resources Woldesenbet, K.; Mwila, Natasha Katuta; Ogunmokun, Olapeju Women entrepreneurship in Africa has seen an impressive leap amidst coping with multifaceted challenges at individual, meso and macro levels. Whilst various motives can drive women entrepreneurship in an African context, less is known about the extent to which women entrepreneurs are able to access and use enterprising resources. To address this gap, this chapter conducted the systematic literature review of published articles from the period 1990-2020 in prominent data bases such as ScienceDirect, Web of Science, Google Scholar and ProQuest. The review found that, overall, studies on the women’s access to, and use of, resources have been a very recent phenomenon, have received an extremely limited attention by scholars, theoretically fragmented, methodologically quantitative and were not able to develop cumulative knowledge on this area. The bias towards cause-effect and gender differences’ explanations in view of mainstreaming women entrepreneurship ‘inadvertently’ led to not only to narrow understanding and theoretical underdevelopment of the field but also to “focus on assumed, innate sex differences that perpetuate the gender gaps.
  • Introduction to Palgrave Handbook of African Entrepreneurship
    Introduction to Palgrave Handbook of African Entrepreneurship Kolade, Oluwaseun; Rae, David; Obembe, Demola; Woldesenbet, K.
  • Longing to grow my business: The work-life interface of women entrepreneurs in Ethiopia
    Longing to grow my business: The work-life interface of women entrepreneurs in Ethiopia Gudeta, Konjit Hailu; van Engen, Marloes; Peters, Pascale; Woldesenbet, K.; Kroon, Brigitte; Hailemariam, Atesde Tesfaye This paper examines the work-life challenges women entrepreneurs face and the consequences of such challenges on the management and growth of women’s enterprises in Ethiopia. Using a grounded theory approach, in-depth interviews with 31 women entrepreneurs operating in various sectors in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia were analyzed. The key finding of the study showed that women’s work-life role and the expectation to take the primary (sometimes the sole) responsibility to care and domestic responsibilities hampers their ability to grow and expand their businesses. Some of the women interviewed were found postponing their business growth decisions as a result of their care responsibilities at home. The challenge of growing their business was found to be acute for those women with pre-school children and with less familial and/or societal support to help shoulder care and other work-family responsibilities. However, we also found examples of women’s continued motivation as a resilience factor in making their business a success. Furthermore, the notion of business success is perceived to be much richer than economic business success. The study provides theoretical and practical insights to the field of (women) entrepreneurship and the work-family literature by exploring the relationship between the work family roles and business growth in a less researched Sub-Saharan African country. Theoretically, the study contributes in providing partial explanation for the consistently reported but less explained phenomena of why women-headed enterprises remain small in size and less performing than men-owned business. It also questions looking at women’s entrepreneurships solely from their economic contribution to a country. It shows that their businesses operate at the intersection of gender, sex, family, culture, religion, institutions, and that they could be supported to contribute to family-community wellbeing as well as economic development
  • The Interaction Between Family Businesses and Institutional Environment in Africa: An Exploration of Contextual Issues
    The Interaction Between Family Businesses and Institutional Environment in Africa: An Exploration of Contextual Issues Murithi, William; Woldesenbet, K. Family businesses in Africa play a vital role in creation of socio-economic wealth as they operate at the intersection of social orders such as the family, the market, community, the state and corporates as well as formal and informal institutions. Family businesses are required to manage the expectations of these social orders and institutions. Although some family business researchers’ attempts to use an institutional perspective to examine the effects of institutional environment on family businesses, less is known about how they influence changes in the institutional environments and the nature of the effects of such interactions, within developing economies such as in Africa. Additionally, institutional voids, have substantial impacts on the way in which family businesses behave and operate in Africa. This chapter addresses these important gaps by advancing theoretically-and contextually- driven propositions to guide future research on the links between family, family businesses, and the institutional environments in Africa.
  • Uncovering the role of institutional context for nascent entrepreneurial ventures
    Uncovering the role of institutional context for nascent entrepreneurial ventures Ogunsade, Adeknunle I.; Obembe, Demola; Woldesenbet, K. Existing research increasingly provide evidence to support the view that formal and informal institutions significantly influence entrepreneurship generally, and are particularly key influences for new venture creation. These institutions invariably act as triggers for economic growth and development. However, within the Sub-Saharan Africa context, nascent entrepreneurial ventures face wide range of challenges, which hinder entrepreneurial activities and limit development. By evaluating formal and informal institutional challenges facing nascent entrepreneurial ventures, we present a multi-dynamic view of embeddedness to uncover barriers to nascent entrepreneurial activity in Africa. Specifically, the study proposes an enterprise-enabling policy framework to promote economic action and bridge institutional voids which limit entrepreneurial venture development.
  • The Palgrave Handbook of African Entrepreneurship
    The Palgrave Handbook of African Entrepreneurship Kolade, Oluwaseun; Rae, David; Obembe, Demola; Woldesenbet, K. This comprehensive handbook offers a state-of-the-art guide to new frontiers of African entrepreneurship. Written from a Pan-African perspective by a cast of international authors, the book addresses the rapid modernisation and evolution of African entrepreneurship and business practices. It maps new developments in entrepreneurial ecosystems, technology and digital entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship in conflict zones, and gender and diversity issues. It proposes new models for entrepreneurial financing and explores the contrast between entrepreneurship in high-technology urban centres with peripheral rural districts and conflict zones. Bringing together empirical insights and case studies from countries across Africa, the Handbook illuminates regional and contextual differences and shares theoretical and practical insights which inform policy and practice. It is an ideal guide for researchers and students working on international business, entrepreneurship and emerging economies. It will also inform policymakers in developing context-informed entrepreneurial policies and initiatives in Africa.
  • Comparing Family and Nonfamily Firms’ Strategic Effects on Regional Development: Evidence from Kenya
    Comparing Family and Nonfamily Firms’ Strategic Effects on Regional Development: Evidence from Kenya Murithi, W.; Woldesenbet, K. Family firms, by being major economic and social actors, contribute to employment, revenue, gross domestic products and socially oriented activities worldwide. Scholars argue that family firms outperform nonfamily firms, but little is known on how and why family firms contribute differently to regional development in comparison to non-family firms. This chapter addresses this knowledge gap by examining two interrelated questions: 1) Do family and nonfamily firms contribute differently to regional development? 2) What are the firm underlying strategic behaviours which help explain the differentiated contribution by both set of firms? The empirical evidence is drawn from the quantitative analysis of survey data from 307 firms operating in Kenya. The findings of the study showed that the strategic behaviours (entrepreneurial orientation, decision making process and social network use) are different in both types of firms. These differences in their strategic behaviour explain the extent to which these firms contribute to regional development and the moderating role of family involvement. The chapter discusses the theoretical and practical implications of the findings as well as the study limitations.
  • Firms’ Contribution to Regional Economic Development: Unravelling Some Explanatory and Moderating Variables
    Firms’ Contribution to Regional Economic Development: Unravelling Some Explanatory and Moderating Variables Woldesenbet, K.; Murithi, W. Drawing on entrepreneurial orientation (EO), family business, strategic decision-making (SDM) and social capital (SC) theories, we investigated whether the family and non-family firms contribute differently to regional economic development (RED) and the moderating role of family involvement in firms. Using survey research design and data from 307 Kenyan firms, the findings of the study showed that: a) Firms’ EO positively influences RED, but the effect of family firms’ EO on RED is twice that of nonfamily firms; b) the relationship between strategic decision-making and RED is negative and this is more pronounced in family firms than nonfamily firms; c) Bridging social capital’s (BSC) influence on firms’ contributions to RED is positive, but nonfamily firms’ BSC effect is twice that of family firms; d) family involvement moderates the effects of firms’ contribution to RED. The overall conclusion of this study is that better understanding of firms’ effect on RED can be achieved by using a range of theories in combination, as such use would help to unpack the underlying mechanisms through which firms influence RED. Finally, theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
  • Navigating Competing Institutional Logics in a Developing Economy
    Navigating Competing Institutional Logics in a Developing Economy Woldesenbet, K.; Storey, J. This paper examines how senior managers in a developing economy, Ethiopia, navigate between, and draw upon, the competing logics of ‘state’ and ‘market’ when seeking to explain their firm’s business strategies. This fault-line is especially critical in such contexts. The empirical work is based on qualitative analysis of interviews with 22 senior managers in matched-paired case studies drawn from a state-owned bank and private sector bank respectively, supplemented with secondary sources. The study reveals how top teams develop shared dominant logics which are patterned in a manner which reveals that the degree of ‘state-dependency’ was the critical variable and that the notion of the ‘market’ was a subsidiary variable. By extending management dominant logic literature into the literature on institutional logics, the study reveals the complementarity of these logics and their consequences for the strategic orientations of firms. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Firm Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Regional Economic Development: The moderating effect of family involvement in the firm.
    Firm Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Regional Economic Development: The moderating effect of family involvement in the firm. Murithi, W.; Woldesenbet, K. The present research aims to improve the scholar’s understanding of the relationship between firm entrepreneurial behaviour (family and nonfamily firms) and regional economic development (RED). Following the proposition from the extant literature that family firms contribute more to regional economic development- GDP, job opportunities and wealth creation, the authors investigate the possible causes of this differences. The authors consider entrepreneurial orientation (EO) to be a composite construct that is integrated and related other independent variables, that with strategic decision making and building bridging social capital. Using information from 307 Kenyan firms, results show that in both types of firms (1) EO positively influences RED, but the effect of family firms EO to RED is twice that of nonfamily firms, (2) strategic decision making negatively influence RED, and the effect in family firms is twice that of nonfamily firms, (3) development of bridging social capital positively influences RED, however the effect of nonfamily firms is twice that of family firms. Family involvement in the management and strategic decision making in the firm moderates the relationship between firm entrepreneurial behaviour and RED.

Click here to see a full listing of Kassa Woldesenbet's publications and outputs.

Key research outputs

Woldesenbet, K., and Storey, J. (2019) ‘Navigating competing logics in developing Economy’, Africa Journal of Management, Published online on 6 February 2019, https://doi.org/10.1080/23322373.2018.1563464

Woldesenbet, K. and Worthington, I. (2018) Public procurement and small businesses: estranged or engaged? Journal of Small Business Management, https://doi.org/10.1111/jsbm.12442

Woldesenbet, K. (2018) "Managing institutional complexity in a transitional economy: The legitimacy work of senior managers", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. 13 Issue: 5, pp.1417-1434.

Vershinina, V., Woldesenbet, K., and Murithi, W (2018) “How does national culture enable or constrain entrepreneurship? Exploring the role of Haram bee in Kenya", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 25 Issue: 4, pp.687-704

Woldesenbet, K., Ram, M., & Jones, T (2012) ‘supplying large firms: The role of entrepreneurial and dynamic capabilities in small businesses’, International Small Business Journal, 30(5):493 -512.

 Ram, M., Jones, T., Paul, E., Kiselinchev, A, Muchenje, L., and Woldesenbet, K (2012), Engaging with super-diversity: New migrant businesses and the research–policy nexus, International Small Business Journal, Published online before print March 12, 2012, doi: 10.1177/0266242611429979 –

Ram, M. , Trehan K, Rouse J, Woldesenbet K, Jones T, (2012)  ‘Ethnic minority business support in the West Midlands: challenges and developments" Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 30(3) 504 – 519.

Ram, M., Woldesenbet, K., & Jones, T. (2011) ‘Raising the “table stakes”?:  ethnic minority businesses and supply chain relationships’ Work, Employment and Society, 25(2):309-326

 Woldesenbet, K. and Storey, J. (2010) Processes of senior managers' sensemaking and learning in a transitional economy. Human Resource Development International, 13 (5), pp. 501-518.

Research interests/expertise

Kassa’s research interests cut across various themes and include: small business, entrepreneurship, strategic management, ethnic minority businesses, supplier diversity, public procurement, business support, management knowledge, sensemaking, learning, and business management in transition economies.

Areas of teaching

CORP2181: Business Research issues and Analysis; Corp3400: Strategy and Management Dissertation; LPBG5017: Dissertation Supervision

Qualifications

PhD, MSc, MReS, PGCertHE, Fellow of HEA

Courses taught

Management & Strategy, Business Communication and Creativity.    

Honours and awards

  • In 2016, my co-authored paper entitled ‘Beyond the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and Mixed Embeddedness Approaches: a Review and Research Agenda’ received two awards as ‘Best Research & Knowledge Exchange paper 2016’ and  a Best paper in Entrepreneurship in Minority Groups’ at the ISBE 2016 Conference.
  • November 2015 – a  Best paper  award  by Institute for  Small Business & Entrepreneurship (ISBE)
  • Overall 2012 ISBJ Best Paper Prize awarded by the International Small Business Journal Editors and associate Editors, Feb 2013
  • Distinction in Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education, De Montfort University, 11/2010
  • October 2003- June 2007: PhD Studentship funded by the Open University.
  • October 2002- September 2003: Postgraduate scholarship funded by the Open University.
  • Best paper award written by doctoral students by British Academy of Management in 2006.

Membership of external committees

Member of the British Academy of Management since 2005.

Conference attendance

Murithi, W., and Woldesenbet, K (2018) ‘Family firms and regional economic development: The mediating role of industrial clusters and firm growth in emerging economies’, Paper submitted to Global Conference on Economic Geography 2018, Cologne, Germany 24th-28 July 2018.

Murithi, W. & and Woldesenbet, K. (2018) ‘Firm Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Regional Economic Development: The moderating effect of family involvement in the firm’, paper presented  at BAM 2018 Annual Conference, 4th-6th September, Bristol, UK

Adekunle, K., Obembe, D., and Woldesenbet, K. (2018) ‘Institutional Environments and Youths Entrepreneurial Orientation: Evidence from Nigeria’, Paper presented at BAM 2018 Annual Conference, 4-6th September, Bristol, UK

Woldesenbet, K. (2018) ‘The use of logics in a transitional economy, paper presented at 4th Biennial Conference of the Africa Academy of Management, 3rd- 6th January 2018, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Murithi, W., Woldesenbet, K., and Vershinina, N. (2017)  Do ‘Harambee Spirit’ and ‘Familiness’ share their meanings in the context of ICT Sector Family Businesses in Kenya? Paper to be presented at 17th European Academy of Management Annual Conference, 21- 24th June, Glasgow, UK.

Babajide, A., Obembe, D., Solomon, H. and Woldesenbet, K. (2017) Fostering Entrepreneurial Activities through Microfinance in Nigeria. Paper presented at 5th European Research Conference on Microfinance, 12-14th June, Portsmouth, UK.

Woldesenbet, K. (2017) Managing ‘legitimacy level and navigating institutional logics in transitional economies. Paper presented at 22nd Eurasia Business and Economics Society Conference, 24-26 May, Rome, Italy

Gast, A., Vershinina, N., and Woldesenbet, K. (2016) Beyond the entrepreneurial ecosystem and mixed embeddedness approaches: A review and research agenda. paper presented at ISBE 2016 Conference, 27-28 October, Paris, France.

Woldesenbet, K. (2016) Constructing and extending legitimacy, and exemplifying social orientation to manage competing institutional logics. paper accepted for presentation at the British Academy of Management 2016 Annual Conference, Newcastle, UK, September 6-8.

Vershinan, N., Woldesenbet, K, Kaur, K, and Trehan, K. (2016) Breaking out or Breaking in? Exploring family dynamics in planning for succession', paper to be presented at Academy of Management Meeting, Anaheim, California, 5-9 August 

Woldesenbet, K., and Theodorakopoulos, N (2015)  ‘Strategizing in the context of transitional Economy: the interplay between firm level and institutional logics’, Paper  presented at the 15th European Academy of Management Annual Conference, June 17th- 20th, Warsaw, Poland.

Theodorakopoulos, N., Sanchez-Preciado, D;, and  Woldesenbet, K.(2015)  ‘Intermediation for Technology Transfer from Academia to Rural Industry as Institutional Work: Filling the Void in a Less-developed Economy Setting’, Paper presented at 30th European Group for Organization Studies  (EGOS) Colloquium , July 2-4 2015, Athens, Greece.

Woldesenbet, K, Worthington, I, and Ram, M ( 2015) ‘ Public Sector Procurement and ‘under-represented businesses’ : engaged or estranged, Paper  presented at the British Academy of Management ( BAM) 29th Annual Conference, 8th- 10th September, Portsmouth, UK.

Vershinina, N., Kaur, K., Woldesenbet, K (2015) ‘Understanding Stakeholder Relationships amongst Punjabi-Indian Family Firm Members’ a paper presented at ISBE 2015 Annual Conference, Glasgow, UK

Jeremiah, M., Woldesenbet Beta, K and Vershinina, N (Sept 2015) “Examining the Corporate Social Responsibility Contribution to Environmental Sustainability in Developing Countries: The Role of Accountability Perspectives” BAM Conference, Portsmouth, UK

Woldesenbet, K., and Storey, J. (2013), The use of dominant logics in a transitional economy’, paper presented at the 13th European Academy of Management (EURAM) 2013 Annual Conference, June 26-29, Istanbul, Turkey

Woldesenbet, K, and Ram, M.(2013), SMEs and public procurement: contextualising the theory of mixed embeddedness’, paper presented at the 13th  European Academy of Management (EURAM ) 2013 Annual Conference, June 26-29,  Istanbul, Turkey 

Woldesenbet, K. (2009) ‘Making sense of senior managers’ ‘need to know’ in a transition economy’, Organizational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities (OLKC) Annual Conference, VU University of Amsterdam, 26-28 April.

 Woldesenbet, K., Storey, J., and Salaman, J.G. (2007), ‘Top-level managers’ knowledge about strategy and strategizing in a turbulent environment’, British Academy of Management Annual Conference, University of Warwick, 11-13, September.

Woldesenbet, K., Storey, J., and Salaman, J.G. (2006), ‘Senior managers’ business knowledge in a transition economy', British Academy of Management Annual Conference, Belfast, 12-14 September (Awarded best paper prize authored by a doctoral student).

Woldesenbet, K., Storey, J., and Salaman, J.G. (2006), 'Top managers’ knowledge about strategizing and capability: a study in Ethiopia', DRUID Summer Conference 2006 on 'Knowledge, Innovation and Competitiveness: Dynamics of Firms, Networks, Regions and Institutions', Copenhagen, Denmark, 18-20 June.

Woldesenbet, K., Storey, J., and Salaman, J.G. (2006), 'Managers’ business knowledge in a transition economy', First International Conference on  Organizational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities (OLKC ), University of Warwick, 20-22 March.

Woldesenbet, K. (2009) ‘Making sense of senior managers’ ‘need to know’ In a transition economy’, Paper Presented at International Conference on Organizational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities (OLKC), April 26-28 Amsterdam, the Netherlands. This paper is one of the outputs from my PhD research. Conference attendance is funded by the department of Strategy & Management.

Ram, M., Woldesenbet, K., & Jones, T (2009) ‘Raising the “table stakes”:  ethnic minority businesses and supply chain relationships’, paper presented at the Institute for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship Annual Conference. Attendance funded by the CREME. 

Current research students

Jeremiah, Mfon Solomon - 1st Supervisor (completed)

Kaur, Kiranjit - 1st Supervisor

Murithi, William - 1st Supervisor

Gast, Annabell - 2nd Supervisor

Ogunsade, Adekunle - Isaac 2nd Supervisor (completed)

Lahaware, Zeeshan - 2nd Supervisor 

Agbo, Jideofor - 2nd Supervisor

Externally funded research grants information

Supplier Diversity in the UK project was funded by the HEIF.  The project started in September 2006 and ended in August 2008.  I was involved in writing up the research report based on the interviews conducted with ethnic minority businesses’ owners and their employer in 2009.

The Minority Ethnic Enterprise Centre of Expertise (MEECOE) was a project funded by the Advantages West Midlands.  The project ran from December 2008 to November 2010.  I was involved as a researcher in one aspect of the MEECOE project - Stakeholder engagement.   Interviews with various intermediary organisations were conducted in 2009 and the report was completed in January 2011.

Supply to the Public Sector project is funded by the ERDF and managed by the Leicester City Council.  The Project started in 2009 and will end in June 2012.  From February 2011, I am a lead academic researcher on the project.  With my colleague, we have undertaken interviews with the directors of 15 small businesses and five social enterprises as well as 10 senior procurement managers in six public sector organisations.  I am now working on writing   the project report and developing theoretical and conceptual frameworks to write up research articles based on the project’s work.  Hence, the end of the project report and writing publications are priorities in 2012. The research would inform theory, practice and policy in area of public procurement and supply diversity.   

Professional esteem indicators

Regular reviewers of Internal Small Business Journal (from 2011)

Reviewers of paper submitted to Small Business Management Journal from 2013

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