Photo of Professor Dilani Jayawarna

Professor Dilani Jayawarna BSc (Eng), PhD

Professor of Entrepreneurship Strategy, IB and Entrepreneurship


    Research Overview

    My research interests are largely in the area of entrepreneurship and small business management, specifically focussing on entrepreneurial life course, aiming to develop theory about entrepreneurial opportunity structures and their relationship to broader social structures.

    Resourcing Business Start-up

    My research builds on the argument that many entrepreneurs start with low levels of capitalisation and this has a major influence on the survival and growth prospects of their ventures. Banks follow conservative, risk-mitigated lending approaches and therefore tend to pick entrepreneurs that are already successful or have access to assets to provide collateral. Traditional venture capitals and business angels also represent only a minor proportion of the necessary capital for entrepreneurial ventures. Bootstrapping as an alternative resourcing strategy is therefore beneficial for entrepreneurs, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Bootstrap financing enables entrepreneurs to access resources at ‘little or no cost’ and is a popular strategy for start-up and during the early stages of operations. Building on this idea of bootstrapping as an alternative resourcing strategy, I co-authored a number of papers taking different perspectives, and have consolidated this work and developed it into a book project titled ‘Resourcing the Start-up Business: Creating Dynamic Entrepreneurial Learning Capabilities’. I’ve also completed an ISBE +ESRC funded project to study bootstrapping as a strategic response to resource demands for social enterprises.

    Life course of the entrepreneur and the their families

    After a successful ESRC application(PI- Dilani Jayawarna, CI- Prof. Julia Rouse), we have started to look at a new area of entrepreneurship research - entrepreneurial life course, specifically aiming to develop theory about entrepreneurial opportunity structures and their relationship to broader social structures. We argue in this work that life course is a useful framework and method for developing a social understanding of the business start-up process and particularly explore how the socially embedded life courses of individuals affect the resources they have available and their motivation to apply those resources to start-up. Our life course work in this area so far proposes that entrepreneur resources are governed by the social processes of inter-generational resource transmission and gendered division of household labour. Also this research provided useful theoretical and policy debates related to how family cultural capital and early education affect life chances of entrepreneurs. The work we published in this area are the first effort to understand entrepreneurial processes from a life course perspective and longitudinal panel data analysis is very new in entrepreneurship research.

    Hybrid Entrepreneurship

    Guided by a resource-demand framework and life course perspective, this research utilises event history panel data to examine the individual and household determinants of hybrid entrepreneurship entry strategies and conditions. The integration of three life courses: individual, household and work histories is important to offer theoretically sound empirically validated pathways to hybrid entry: hybrid as a leisure activity; hybrid as a combined part time commitment. This research centres on the argument that individual determinants that have been given high importance in the theoretical discussion of hybrid entrepreneurship cannot be warranted. Besides individual aspects, institutional factors, especially around family play a decisive role in illustrating and explaining hybrid entrepreneurship participation. This co-authored research with Prof. Ossie Jones has important policy implications in terms of understanding why full time wage employees seek alternative work arrangements, the experience of multiple roles in employment and resource-demand led pathways to entrepreneurship.

    Research Group Membership

    Research Grants

    Social Enterprise: bootstrapping as a strategic response to recession


    March 2011 - April 2012