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Cornell Professor Receives Grant to Explore Entrepreneurship

ITHACA, N.Y.– The Johnson School at Cornell University announced that Wesley Sine, assistant professor of management and organizations, received a grant from the Cisco Entrepreneur Institute, an initiative of Cisco Systems, Inc. focused on fostering entrepreneurship. Cisco said it believes this initiative will create significant long-term benefits and help transform the economic landscape for customers and partners, while enabling Cisco to further expand its business and social impact.

The grant is currently funding entrepreneurship research in Latin America, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico, and will be conducted with local organizations in each country.

The Cisco Entrepreneur Institute and its local partners, including academic institutions, non-governmental organizations and economic development agencies, will offer participants in all five countries, entrepreneurship sessions and workshops. The Institute is focused on fostering entrepreneurship markets by working with local government and business organizations to foster the creation and success of small- and medium-sized businesses. The Institute provides practical business insights for entrepreneurs, facilitates knowledge-sharing with local business leaders and shows participants how to leverage technology to speed business growth.

Research is already under way in Chile, where Sine is currently tracking more than 300 participants with the El Instituto Professional (AIEP), an institution of higher education that seeks to become the leading institution of technical and vocational education in the country. 

“Through this research, we’re looking to get a better idea of the causal factors that determine the extent to which the population engages in entrepreneurial activities and the degree of their success,” said Sine. “By tracking individual entrepreneurs and their ideas over time, we hope to learn more about the challenges they face and their motivations as they develop their new business ventures.”

A survey developed by Sine asks respondents for their new business ideas, as well as specifics on their socio-economic background, education, experience, networks, personality traits, and career aspirations. Sine plans to track the progress of turning those ideas into viable businesses with six-month follow-up surveys. In addition to tracking the students at each of the universities, researchers will randomly survey business people and a local university that does not offer entrepreneurship courses.

Sine has also been conducting entrepreneurship research in Colombia. The study, called “Declining Insurgencies,” investigates the welfare of almost 1,000 entrepreneurs in Colombia and reports that the survival rate for small businesses in Colombia have doubled since 2001, due largely to a sharp decrease in violence and the ensuing rapid economic growth.

Sine was also awarded a $12,000 grant from Cornell’s Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies for “The Failure of Political Institutions and New Venture Survival” and received one of 12 fellowships for fall 2008 from Cornell’s Institute of Social Sciences.

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