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Entrepreneurship as an opportunity for disabled people: an exploration of business start-up experiences and resources

Roni, Naheed Nawazesh (2014) Entrepreneurship as an opportunity for disabled people: an exploration of business start-up experiences and resources. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to advance knowledge about the issues of disabled entrepreneurship. Its focus is upon understanding the experiences of disabled entrepreneurs who have developed new businesses, and how they accessed resources for start-up. Entrepreneurship research to date has almost entirely overlooked disabled entrepreneurs. This research breaks new ground by offering a unique, rich data set about the lived experiences of disabled people in becoming entrepreneurs. In entrepreneurship research Resource-Based View (RBV) is an influential and widely used theoretical framework, which sees businesses essentially as bundles of human, financial and social capital. I initially drew upon RBV to ask two key questions: firstly, how do disabled entrepreneurs use human, social and financial capital when beginning a business and secondly, how do service providers support disabled entrepreneurs? I conducted semi-structured interviews with twenty-five British disabled entrepreneurs to obtain information about their start-up experiences and acquisition of resources. In addition, I interviewed five employees from support service organisations in order to obtain their perspectives on practice with regard to disabled entrepreneurship. My analysis was guided by Grounded Theory, which I see as particularly appropriate for facilitating interpretive understanding of the social processes associated with business theory. The most prominent finding is that the major support for start-up business was provided by the family. Families contributed human capital (business know-how and practical skills) and social capital (contacts and networks). Most significant of all was the use of family financial capital as a resource for disabled entrepreneurs, who faced difficulty accessing finance from formal sources. I found a relatively weak connection between disabled entrepreneurs and support service providers in the UK. The main theoretical contribution of the study is an extended version of RBV - derived through studying disabled entrepreneurship - that recognises family resources. There are some practical implications for fostering entrepreneurship as an opportunity for disabled people, with requisite support. In particular, I suggest that there is untapped potential in the UK for micro-credit options to enable disabled entrepreneurship. The implication of this study is that much remains to be done to make entrepreneurship more inclusive of disabled people. I suggest some potential areas of future research in disabled entrepreneurship.

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