The tipple and the Thais that bind

October 7, 2005

Name: Andrew Atherton

Age: 39

Job: Professor of enterprise and entrepreneurship and director of the

Enterprise Research and Development Unit, Lincoln Business School, Lincoln University.

Background: Studied Chinese and economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and development economics at Yale University. I started my own business in the US to work with small businesses based in the former Eastern Bloc during the early 1990s. I joined Durham University in 1995 to set up a policy research unit and moved to Lincoln in 2002.

Working Hours: Eight to six-ish with reading round and reviewing in the evening. And some writing and editing of papers over the weekend.

Number of staff and students: Our unit has grown to seven in a couple of years, and we are about to expand again. As well as working on about a dozen studies and research contracts each year, I am responsible for the faculty's research strategy and sit on the "mandatory" committees. And I teach - an undergraduate "start a venture" module and the entrepreneurship elective on the MBA.

Biggest challenge: Our mock research assessment exercise audit. We've been working hard to involve everybody in research and this has gained good results. People got nervous about "who was in and who was out", but our external has turned the whole thing into an opportunity to encourage staff to become even more active.

Office space: I'm lucky - I have an office to myself. That means more space for piles of paper.

Social life: On Wednesdays, our PhD students convene in The Shed for "serious" discussions after their research seminar, over a pint... so that encourages academic staff to drop by. Our research team goes out for a monthly curry, Bangladeshi and Thai as well as Indian.

Any difficult customers? Interesting question. Students aren't customers, in one sense, but are in another. Most are great - problems arise through lack of communication and so can almost always be resolved. Research sponsors often work in a similar way, in that they have their own expectations and time scales. Understand where they are coming from, make sure you talk to them, and difficulties can generally be sorted out.

University life: Lincoln is a small and still-growing university. Almost everybody knows everybody else. That makes for a friendly working environment.

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