PhD Management, 2008
Country of origin: Italy
Current employer: Open University Business School
Before gaining my PhD I had been a financial advisor to SMEs for 15 years in Italy. I dealt with the financial needs of SMEs and supported firms in getting bank finance. Both entrepreneurs and bank managers frequently stressed the importance of the personal relationships in running a business and the fact that, in small communities, reputation, trust and gossip are important drivers in decision making and can even help to overcome difficulties that SMEs face in accessing finance.
These aspects fascinated me and I wanted to give an academic backing to my own field intuitions and observations. So in 2002 I started my PhD with Lancaster University Management School, investigating specifically the role of trust in the banks-SMEs lending relationship. Since the topic was so strongly linked to my professional activity, I decided to do my PhD as a part-time student. This approach gave me the opportunity to cross-fertilise research and consulting activity.
Since research at LUMS is recognised as world-class, the PhD in Management was something of a natural choice. Furthermore, my PhD research supervisor was Professor Carole Howorth of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development (IEED), who has strong research interests in SMEs and in the role trust plays in business relationships.
The support I found both from the University and from my supervisor was above expectations. Because of such support, the entire PhD was a much easier and enjoyable experience than I had expected: my opinions and ideas were challenged both by my supervisor and by PhD colleagues that I had the opportunity to meet, even though I was studying from abroad.
I presented my PhD thesis in December 2007 and this represented a real turning point in my life. My Lancaster PhD gave me the opportunity to move on into academia. Since 2008 I have been a lecturer in finance at The Open University Business School where I am able to continue the research I started in 2002 and to transfer my research findings to postgraduate students.