Professor Andrew “Zach” Zacharakis is the John H. Muller, Jr. Chair in Entrepreneurship at Babson and the Director of BCERC. His academic interests include entrepreneurship, venture capital, and new venture creation. Professor Zacharakis teaches courses at the graduate level and his research has been published in academic journals including Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, International Small Business Journal, and Journal of Business Ethics. He has also co-authored ten books. In this interview, Professor Zacharakis introduces readers to BCERC and explains how the conference advances the study of entrepreneurship.
What is BCERC?
BCERC is the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference. It is the leading worldwide academic conference on entrepreneurship. The conference annually brings professors together from around the world to share leading edge entrepreneurship research. It is a competitive conference in that we regularly have over 600 submissions for 250 presentation slots. Our attendees present research on over fifteen topics including financing, opportunity recognition, family enterprise, corporate entrepreneurship, women entrepreneurs, and social entrepreneurship. The conference is held at Babson every third to fifth year, and the other years, leading universities around the world bid to host it. The 2018 conference will be held in Ireland hosted by the Waterford Institute of Technology. The 2017 conference was hosted by the University of Oklahoma Michael F. Price College of Business. Babson professors who attended the most recent conference include Lakshmi Balachandra, Candy Brush, Andrew Corbett, and Sid Vedula. BCERC returns to Babson in 2019 and will be part of Babson’s Centennial Celebration.
In conjunction with the main conference, BCERC has a Doctoral Consortium where students pursuing their PhD join a workshop with leading scholars and fellow doctoral students. The consortium is highly sought after. We regularly have over 75 applications for 25 slots. The Kauffman Foundation, which supports entrepreneurship education, has been providing scholarships to accepted students. The Doctoral Consortium is a great way for doctoral students to meet people in the field, find new collaborators for research, and gain visibility at universities where they may find professorship.
How long have you been involved with BCERC and what is your role?
I first started attending BCERC as a participant in 1993, when I was a doctoral student. That first year, I was accepted into the doctoral consortium and met lifetime friends and collaborators, including Candy Brush and Patti Greene, who would later join me as faculty members at Babson. I have attended every conference since then, except in 1995 because my daughter was born during the conference. Over the years, we have identified promising scholars who ultimately became part of our faculty, including Professors Heidi Neck, Andrew Corbett, Phil Kim, Donna Kelley, Brad George, Erik Noyes, Sid Vedula, and Angela Randolph. In 2005, I became the Director of BCERC and have been the longest serving director in the history of the conference. In this role, I manage paper submissions, put together the program, and organize the venue where the conference occurs.
What is the history of BCERC?
BCERC was founded at Babson in 1981 and has continued to grow since then. In 1981, the conference attracted fewer than 15 attendees, but it now has around 350!
Why was BCERC created?
In the late 1970s and 1980s, entrepreneurship was an emerging field of study and there was no clear venue for professors to present their research. Other conferences have emerged since 1981, but BCERC remains the leading conference for entrepreneurial research.
What impact has BCERC had on scholarly research?
BCERC allows professors to present their works in progress. Through interaction with other professors, they reshape their work and refine their studies. Many of these studies ultimately appear in academic and practitioner journals and have shaped the way entrepreneurs practice and create companies.
If there was one thing you wanted the world to know about BCERC, what would it be?
BCERC provides a great place for people to get together, share ideas, form new collaborations, and advance knowledge in the field of entrepreneurship.
What excites you about next year’s conference?
The 2018 BCERC conference will be held at the Waterford Institute of Technology in Waterford, Ireland. BCERC changes location each year as a way of broadening its impact across the world. I’ve never been to Ireland, so I’m looking forward to next year!
Which conference has been your most memorable and why?
I can’t say I have a favorite conference, because it is more the people at the conference. Every year, I reunite with old friends and meet new acquaintances that will become future friends and collaborators. That being said, it is always exciting when the conference is hosted overseas. In past years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to London, Norway, Madrid, Sweden, Scotland, France, Switzerland and Belgium. Every conference has receptions and an awards dinner, and when we travel internationally, we experience beautiful venues and excellent food.
How can students get involved with BCERC?
Students can help in the organization of the conference or contribute to research that will be presented at BCERC.
Each year, we publish Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research, also known as FER, a compilation of the conference’s proceedings and the top 40 papers that were presented. FER contains groundbreaking data that students can use for their personal or academic pursuits.