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: 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 

  • 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.
  • Managing institutional complexity in a transitional economy: The Legitimacy work of senior managers
    Managing institutional complexity in a transitional economy: The Legitimacy work of senior managers Woldesenbet, K. The purpose of this paper is to examine how senior managers in a transitional economy context deal with the challenge of handling competing institutional logics through legitimacy work. The paper draws on the qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with 34 senior managers in Ethiopia in matched pairs of four commercial organisations in private and state sectors and secondary sources. The research reveals how the erstwhile protected state-owned organisations responded to institutional complexity, by seeking to extend their legitimacy claims whereas the emergent private sector organisations sought to construct a new legitimacy, in part by adopting some of the logics used by state-firms. Extending this study with longitudinal comparative case studies across other emerging market economies could cast light on the varied ways in which organisations manage institutional complexities. It is imperative that the government and policy makers have clarity in issuing directives and other signals about valued objectives to be pursued by enterprises. Otherwise, the organisational level actors may remain uncertain about the acceptable behaviours and responses and are likely to waste time and resources in trying to anticipate an unclear sense of direction. This is a novel study which examines how organisational actors manage institutional complexity in a transitional economy context by undertaking legitimacy building work and appearing to meet state-public expectations.
  • Public procurement and small businesses: estranged or engaged?
    Public procurement and small businesses: estranged or engaged? Woldesenbet, K.; Worthington, I. How do ‘under-represented’ business owners engage with public procurement opportunities? Extant studies tend to offer prescriptions rather than theoretically-guided responses to this question despite the importance of public procurement as a tool for economic development. Drawing on Edwards et al’s (2006) institutionalist framework on small firm behaviour, this paper examined the complex, subtle, interplay of structural factors and internal resources in shaping small firms’ strategic choices and identified the existence of four discernible groups of under-represented businesses with differentiated levels of knowledge, attitude and capacity, from those unwilling and unable to seek supply opportunities to those aspiring and able to engage.
  • Institutional Environments and Youths Entrepreneurial Orientation: Evidence from Nigeria
    Institutional Environments and Youths Entrepreneurial Orientation: Evidence from Nigeria Ogunsade, Isaac A.; Obembe, Demola; Woldesenbet, K.; Vershinina, Natalia Entrepreneurial activities and venture creation among youths represent one of the key drivers of job creation and economic growth (OECD, 2016; Acs, 2006). What influences individual entrepreneur to business start-up remains an enduring issue of interest in academic research on entrepreneurship. Recent studies suggest that the institutional context plays a key role in influencing individual behaviour, as well as in facilitating entrepreneurial climate for new ventures. Consequently, this study draws on institutional theory as a valuable lens to investigate the extent to which the regulative, normative and cultural-cognitive environments affect individual entrepreneurial orientation (IEO) and self-employment among Nigerian youths. The study adopts a quantitative research approach, allowing for primary data collection conducted through survey questionnaire and administered to a sample of 482 student respondents. A three-stage hierarchical regression analysis was used to test the hypotheses and to investigate the predictability impact of the model. The result revealed that all three predictor variables (Institutional environments) made a statistical unique contribution to the model. However, the regulative and cognitive model made a statistically significant unique contribution to impacting the individual entrepreneurial orientation among the university educated Nigerian youths.
  • Do ‘Harambee Spirit’ and ‘Familiness’ share their meanings in the context of ICT Sector Family Businesses in Kenya?
    Do ‘Harambee Spirit’ and ‘Familiness’ share their meanings in the context of ICT Sector Family Businesses in Kenya? Murithi, W.; Woldesenbet, K.; Vershinina, Natalia This paper examines the two seemingly unrelated concepts of ‘Familiness’ and ‘Harambee Spirit’ in the context of Kenya. The key questions addressed in this paper are ‘to what extent are family firms, in particular, those operating in ICT sector, are embedded in ‘Harambee spirit’ and how does such embeddedness shape the family firms’ business operations? Based on the purposively selected three family ICT firms and relevant literature, the study provides evidence which shows the presence of main features of the ‘Harambee spirit’ and ‘Familiness’, and that some elements of these overlap. Furthermore, the study found variations in the extent to which some ‘Familiness” features were observed in sample firms. In a wider plane, the study furthers our understanding of how both the family and the national cultural contexts shape the behaviour of firms.
  • Fostering Entrepreneurial Activities through Microfinance in Nigeria
    Fostering Entrepreneurial Activities through Microfinance in Nigeria Babajide, A.; Obembe, Demola; Solomon, O. Helen; Woldesenbet, K. This paper examines the mechanisms by which microfinance loans foster entrepreneurship using social capital. Our empirical data was gathered through questionnaire survey of 317 active small business borrowers in Nigeria. Two models were considered for this study, social capital as a measure of social network and social capital as a measure of trust among group members were tested. On microfinance and social network on entrepreneurial success our study shows that: a) microloans obtained on group membership platform enhances entrepreneurial success of borrowers; b) further probing of the sex of respondents interacted with relationship with loan officers shows that female respondents perceive their relationship with their loan officers yield better entrepreneurial success. Female borrowers also perceived their group membership as the platform for their entrepreneurial success. On pre-loan training and level of education, we found that borrowers with lower levels of education receiving microloans were more successful in their entrepreneurial activities than borrowers with higher levels of education. In the same vein, borrowers with lower levels of education perceived the relationship with their loan officers enhances their entrepreneurial activities more so than respondents with higher levels of education. c) On trust as a measure of social capital, microloan show positive significant impact on entrepreneurial success. Further probing shows that borrowers with lower levels of education are more trusting of their group members than borrowers with higher education levels and this we believe enhances their entrepreneurial success. Also, borrowers with lower level of education believe that group membership enhance their access to microloan although result obtained is not statistically significant at 5 percent. In the same vein, borrowers with lower education levels perceived their group membership enhance their welfare while borrowers with higher education levels do not. We also observed gender differences in loan access such that female borrowers perceived group membership enhances ability to access loans while male respondents did not see any connection between group membership and loan access. Interacting this with entrepreneurial success resulted in a negative influence which implies that access to loan on the platform of group membership does not enhance entrepreneurial success of the respondents. Furthermore, female borrowers perceive group membership enhances their welfare and have positive impact on their entrepreneurial success but not male borrowers. The result also suggests that female borrowers place more trust on their group members which in turn enhance their entrepreneurial success. Further robust check shows that both models are of good fit and statistically significant at 1 percent. This study thus extends the entrepreneurship literature to microfinance and provides empirical insight into the significance of social capital in facilitating microfinance contribution to business creation and growth.
  • Managing ‘legitimacy level and navigating institutional logics in transitional economies’
    Managing ‘legitimacy level and navigating institutional logics in transitional economies’ Woldesenbet, K. This paper examines how senior managers in public and private sector organisations navigated between competing logics in the highly contested environment of a transitional economy. The analysis reveals the role ‘legitimacy level’ plays in organisational survival where the rules of the game are uncertain and ambiguous. The research reported here contrasts the sense-making and logic-building work of two groups of strategic managers: one group in state-owned and state protected settings, and another group in competitive market settings. Previous work in this area suggests that organisations with an established status are less likely to undertake radical changes due to fear of losing benefits in current arrangements and that they thus engage in incremental changes in their organisational practices, structures and strategies. In partial accordance with this literature we found that state enterprises sought to defend but also to extend their legitimacy building. In contrast, the privately-owned enterprises sought to construct a new legitimacy level. They did this through a combination of the adoption of some of the logics deployed by state-owned firms and an assertion of some distinctive logics.
  • The Use of logics in a transitional economy
    The Use of logics in a transitional economy Woldesenbet, K. Using the dual concepts of ‘dominant logic’ and institutional logics, this paper examines how senior managers in the context of transition economy navigate between the competing logics of state- dependency and market-dependency when seeking to explain their firms’ business strategies. By comparing accounts in matched-paired case studies drawn from state versus private sectors, 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 market was a subsidiary variable. Further, the study found that it was the top teams in the state-owned firm which articulated the more confident, proactive expansionary plans, while the top managers in the private sector firm presented more cautious and incremental business strategies. Contextual conditions are described which help account for these contrasting patterns

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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