‘Our Laboratory Is an Integrated Part of International Research’
Taking part in major international conferences and getting published in international academic journals is all in a day’s work for students working at the Scientific Laboratory for Research on Entrepreneurship (NULIP) at HSE. We asked Artyom Gudkov, a master’s student at ICEF and member of staff at NULIP to tell us about his work, published in the international peer-reviewed ‘Journal of Chinese Entrepreneurship’.
— Artyom, so tell us, what is your article about?
— My article is called ‘Combining formal and informal financial sources: Russian early entrepreneurs' and established firms' structure of external financing’. It is about the analysis I conducted of the various ways small and medium-sized businesses in Russia can attract formal and informal sources of finance in the early stages of the life-cycle of their companies.
The basic conclusion is that in the early stages of development Russian companies are still finding investment almost exclusively through informal sources of finance, predominantly when the owner of a new company is connected by family ties or friendship to the lender. The percentage of business angels supporting start-ups in Russia compared to most developed countries has remained relatively low in recent years. As a result, we have what is known in English as an ‘equity gap’, in other words, the volume of informal financing doesn’t meet the needs for small businesses to function in the early stages.
— But this is a well known problem and not only Russia suffers from it. What’s new about your research?
— I have shown a whole row of non-economic factors in 2006-2011 leading to a positive decision by Russian informal investors to put up the money, which in some sense took the edge off the problem of raising capital from formal sources. One of those factors was an optimistic view of Russia’s macroeconomic development and another was the view of entrepreneurs as high status members of society. As a result, Russian start-ups were able to attract quite a significant volume of resources, without thinking about the need to constantly broaden their sources for borrowing. That played a negative part during the world crisis when the level of demand for venture capital began to steadily overtake the size of offers: the chances of finding informal investors shrank and collaborating with other players on the financial markets was outside the experience of young Russians in small businesses.
— Why did you publish your article in the ‘Journal of Chinese Entrepreneurship’?
In June last year I was involved in a large conference on researching enterprise which was organised by the Academy of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Tsinghua, Beijing. The annual meeting was held in Macau. The organisers worked closely with the journal’s publisher, Emerald, and so when the results of the conference judged my research to be one of the best pieces, they proposed to publish it in that particular journal.
— But how did you find out about the conference?
— Well it was all pretty simple. I work at the HSE Scientific Laboratory for Research on Entrepreneurship which periodically holds sessions and at one of them I heard about the conference from the head of the lab, Alexander Chepurenko. Our lab is well integrated into the international process of research into entrepreneurship, our colleagues take part in various conferences several times a year, in international summer schools (they’ve been in Moscow, Enschede and Berlin in recent years), our HSE experts speak at meetings as often as those from European universities. Generally all this information is available on our laboratory website and on our group page on Facebook, so NUL colleagues are well informed about impending international conferences and the work we do is good source material for preparing lectures and writing articles.
— To publish an article in an international peer-reviewed journal you need to meet rather strict requirements about knowing how to write in an academic style and use certain methods of analysis. How did you manage it?
— Last spring I did a course to further my qualifications in academic writing, run by Zhenya Bakin. Thanks to the course, I made significant strides in improving my skills in academic English usage and learnt how to present my work to suit the requirements of a scholarly journal. As for the content, going to the summer school in Enschede (in the Dutch province of Twente) in 2011 was a big help. Our laboratory at HSE organised the summer school jointly with the Centre for Development of Entrepreneurship ‘Nikos’ at the University of Twente. For about six months a group of four of us prepared a project for the summer school comparing analysis of financing entrepreneurship in Russia and the Netherlands and we were constantly re-working and improving our text thanks to discussions in meetings at NUL and the valuable comments we got from our senior colleagues and mentors – Alexandra Chepurenko, Olga Obraztsova, Maria Gabelko, and Yekaterina Murzacheva.
I also got a lot out of the joint seminar with the Laboratory of Network Forms of Organisation and NULIP in 2012, after which the text of my talk was re-worked again as a result of intensive discussions and positive criticism from the participants.
And taking part in the All-Russian venture fair in St Petersburg (on the suggestion of my academic supervisor for my diploma, Ivan Rodionov) helped me to write the last chapter of the article on venture financing in Russia.
— What are you plans for the future?
— At the end of March I’ve been invited to speak at a conference in the USA, organised by the University of Nevada. I’m planning to talk on a similar topic that compares sources of finance for small business in Russia and Eastern Europe.
Interview by Viktor Ivanov, specially for the HSE news portal
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