Professor Wilson Ng, Visiting Professor in Regent’s Entrepreneurship & Family Business Centre, recently presented at the Organization Science and the Disciplines Winter Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.
The three-day, invitation-only event, brought together promising early career researchers and established scholars in the field of Organisation Science. Researchers from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Chicago, Wharton, INSEAD, LBS, and many other universities presented their research on work, environment, and careers, inequality in the workplace, identity and organizations, and social dynamics of industries.
Wilson presented his paper, co-authored by Felix Arndt (De Montfort University), on the challenges, drivers, and attributes of opportunity formation among a research sample of legally blind entrepreneurs in two EU economies. The paper explored how visually impaired serial entrepreneurs were able to overcome extreme physical, economic, and social challenges of their impairment, including social perceptions of their performance limitations.
The researchers found that their blind entrepreneurs were able to do so chiefly by instrumentalising their impairments for commercial or social purposes. This finding seems to run contrary to the negative experiences of many physically impaired employees, who being economically and socially disadvantaged often need to react and cope with social expectations of their “disability.”
By contrast, the sampled entrepreneurs developed a number of distinctive attributes as a business strategy in creating ventures that leveraged public perceptions of physical impairment. In achieving this objective, the entrepreneurs did not primarily seek to alter public perceptions of blindness, but instead often exploited these perceptions in their ventures. The paper’s findings offer rich opportunities for research in and beyond entrepreneurship by drawing on theoretical foundations of adaptive skills and requirements in the challenged-based view of venture creation, while accepting ontological assumptions of ableist and “tragic” views of disability in the UK research context.
This work forms part of a core initiative on disability and enterprise in the Entrepreneurship & Family Business Centre. Several Centre members are researching this topic, including Wilson, Ed Gonsalves, Professor Jonathan Liu and the Centre Director, Professor Simon O’Leary.