SBS Research
Postgraduate Research

Health and Wellbeing of Entrepreneurs

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PhD Studentships 2015/16

Understanding and Enhancing the Health and Wellbeing of Entrepreneurs Innovating Healthy Futures

UK/EU fees covered

Closing date: 30th June 2015

Informal enquiries: Prof Sarah Dodd, Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship

Applications to: Caroline Laurie

The project

Evidence indicates that entrepreneurs and the self-employed experience worse physiological health outcomes than managers, and are much more prone to workplace injuries and fatalities. Entrepreneurs thus represent a medically vulnerable group, whose health risks are very poorly understood and under-researched. However, the meaningfulness which entrepreneurs bring to their self-directed venturing can be argued to support good health, in line with Antonovsky’s principle of salutogenesis. Entrepreneurship is routinely proposed (and lauded) by policy makers as a significantly positive personal career choice, which delivers net socio-economic benefits to individuals, societies and cities. This poses the central question to be answered in this PhD: how can entrepreneurs be supported in maintaining their physical and mental health, both for the sake of the sustainability of the businesses they develop, and for their own flourishing?

Making sense of entrepreneurial health and wellbeing requires immersion in the habitus of this vulnerable occupational group, to map and analyse narratives of the mental, social, and physical practices that shape health levels and patterns. For example, entrepreneurs often find it very difficult to take sick leave, which exacerbates their exposure to health risks. Given the heterogenous nature of entrepreneurial groupings, we further anticipate diversity in their experience of health, a topic which has yet to be studied in detail. For example, the complex inter-relationships between the domestic and the public experienced in family firms have been shown to promote both positive and negative outcomes for health. The disabled engage in entrepreneurship as a means to achieve professional goals, whilst retaining control of managing their impairments, and addressing workplace exclusion. Self-employed from urban contexts of multiple deprivation are likely to suffer additional stressors above and beyond those created by their entrepreneurial occupation. The PhD research will thus address the following research questions:

  • What are the antecedents, practices, and outcomes of entrepreneurial health patterns?
  • Who are the most vulnerable groupings of entrepreneurs at risk of health problems?
  • Which wellbeing interventions are most likely to be effective in tackling the health risks and problems of entrepreneurs and the self-employed (in general), and of specifically vulnerable groups?

The study calls for engaged, longitudinal, qualitative methodologies, aimed at facilitating participants in the articulation of their own health-related life-world narratives.

The candidate

Candidates should have a good Honours degree (minimum 2:1) and/or a Master’s degree in a social science, health-related or business/management discipline. They may also have appropriate experience, or other skills which are relevant to this project. As well as a CV and relevant qualification transcripts, applications must be accompanied by a cover letter indicating what they feel they might contribute to our research conversation. An interest in wellbeing and / or entrepreneurship is considered essential.

Supervision team

Professor Sarah Dodd (Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship)

Professor Alec Morton (Department of Management Science)

Cluster Concept

This PhD scholarship forms part of a new, multidisciplinary cluster of PhD scholarships across Strathclyde Business School focused on health and well-being, particularly in urban settings. This cluster is supported by and will be linked with the Centre for Health Policy, and is aligned with the University themes of Health and of Future Cities, which is a major focus for Strathclyde as a leading international technological university. The cluster will help SBS to contribute to this research agenda while extending existing programmes of research through the blending of theoretical frameworks, concepts and methodological approaches. The cluster is also well aligned with the Scottish Government’s revised Economic Strategy which identifies investment in education, skills and health; inclusive growth which promotes equality and tackles inequality; and innovative approaches to long standing economic and social problems as key priorities.