“For me, it’s about opening people’s minds to become aware, alert and engaged.”
Sarah Jack is a world-leading researcher and Professor in the field of entrepreneurship and social networking and our Centre Director at Stockholm School of Economics (SSE). She is the first holder of the Jacob and Marcus Wallenberg Chair in Innovative and Sustainable Business Development at SSE. Based on theories of social capital and social networks, Sarah Jack examines how the relationship between entrepreneurs and their context is built and developed and the significance of this for entrepreneurial business. Her research interests also include current issues, such as sustainability, innovation, family entrepreneurship, and the role of higher education in entrepreneurship.
Name: Sarah Jack
Title: Professor and Centre Director
How did you first hear about SSES?
I first heard about SSES when working at Aberdeen University in Scotland. They were expanding their efforts in entrepreneurship education and many were talking about the good work coming out of Stockholm and this rare institution that was able to connect and collaborate five universities while still remaining independent enough to achieve impact.
How would you define entrepreneurship?
For me, it’s about opening people’s minds to become aware, alert and engaged. We are all entrepreneurial in different ways and in different contexts and I see it is a learning process and a choice, rather than something we’re born with. But I think we need more reflection in the system, students need to know that it’s ok to fail and not always be successful. In a context in which you’re constantly being tested, having the ability to reflect on and learn from your mistakes is absolutely crucial.
So how do we best open minds?
By merging the theoretical with the practical. As teachers we need to guide students in understanding the literature, so they can see where things are coming from and how everything is interconnected. At the same time, we must train them in collaborating with people who look at the world very differently. This, I believe is the role of the university.
As a researcher, what do you most enjoy studying?
I like the social side of things, such as social innovation, social learning, social embeddedness and the places in which entrepreneurship happens. I’m fascinated to see how people build social capital, why they draw on the relationships they do, and how that impacts the outcome.
What do you think is our role as a school of entrepreneurship?
What’s special about SSES is your ability to bring people together in the same space. By making it easy to interact, people start building social networks, develop a more varied context and play on each other’s strengths. That’s fertile ground for interesting ideas to take off.