Mike Wright

Associate Director

Mike is Professor of Entrepreneurship at Imperial College London. At the ERC he leads the research theme on finance and governance. His research interests include entrepreneurship, family businesses, entrepreneurial finance and governance.

Contact Details

Email:[email protected]
Telephone:020 7594 2606

Research Themes

  • Finance


Professor Mike Wright is Professor of Entrepreneurship at Imperial College London. At the ERC he leads the research theme on finance and governance. His research interests include entrepreneurship, family businesses, entrepreneurial finance and governance.  He is editor elect of the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal and a member of the BVCA Research Advisory Board. He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Ghent.

He has held major research grants from financial institutions and national and international research agencies totalling almost £4 million for studies in the areas of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial finance and governance.  These grants have resulted in numerous reports for research funders,  extensive media coverage (including Financial Times, The Economist, Wall Street Journal, etc.), and leading international journal articles for academic and more applied audiences (such as Review of Economics and Statistics, Economic Journal, Academy of Management Review, Strategic Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Management Studies, JBV, ETP, California Management Review, Harvard Business Review, etc.)


Online Peer-to-Peer lending to finance business growth: Evidence from Funding Circle

Evidence on the business segment of Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending is still scarce due to the relative novelty of the phenomenon born in 2010. In this paper, we use data from the Funding Circle (FC) loan book over the period 2010-2017 to emphasise the growing importance of this type of alternative finance as a source of funding for growth of small businesses. Loans for growth purposes represent the most significant part of the FC loan portfolio, the largest marketplace platform for business loans in the UK, before working capital loans and asset finance. Therefore, there is evidence that small businesses turn to online platforms to fund their growth.

Research Paper

Waves of Professionalization Before, During and After Management Buyouts and Buy-ins of Private Family Firms. Research Paper No 37

We explore the process of professionalization pre- and post- buyout (MBO) or buyin (MBI) of former private family firms using longitudinal evidence from six UK family firms undergoing an MBO/I in 1998. Professionalization behaviour was monitored up to 2014. Previous studies have conceptualized professionalization as a threshold to be attained. We demonstrate that professionalization is a complex process occurring in waves, triggered by changes in firm ownership and management. Waves of professionalization converge during the MBO/I process. Buyouts provide a funnelling mechanism enabling diverse control
systems to be standardized. Post-MBO/I, divergence in the professionalization process reoccurs contingent on firm-specific contexts. Professionalization focuses on operations when stewardship relationships predominate, but on agency control mechanisms when there is increased potential for agency costs. Buyout organizational form is an important transitory phase facilitating the professionalization process. Professionalization is not a once for all development stage.

Research Paper

Resources and innovation in family businesses: The Janus-face of family socio-emotional preferences. Research Paper No 34

ERC Research Paper No 34. Resources and innovation in family businesses:The Janus-face of family socio-emotional preferences.

Family business socio-emotional preferences are often Janus-faced: Some strive to create a strong business they can pass on to offspring by building innovation-promoting resources such as human, relational and financial capital. Other family firms cater to family desires for unqualified nepotism, altruism towards undeserving kin, and appropriation of firm assets to fulfill parochial desires that erode these resources.
We explore how some such preferences, together with their impact on resources and the innovation demands of their markets, shape the approach to innovation.

Research Paper

Understanding the social role of entrepreneurship. Research Paper No 33

There is a need to rethink and redefine the social value added of entrepreneurial activities to society. In this paper we develop five pillars on which the evolving social role of entrepreneurship can rest and have its impact: (1) connecting entrepreneurial activities to other societal efforts aimed at improving the quality of life, achieving progress, and enriching human existence; (2) identifying ways to reduce the dysfunctional effects of entrepreneurial activities on stakeholders; (3) redefining the scope of entrepreneurial activities as a scholarly arena; (4) recognizing entrepreneurship’s social multiplier; and (5) pursuing blended value at the organizational level, centring on balancing the creation of financial, social and environmental wealth. In a final section we discuss implications for practices and for further research.

Research Paper

Academic entrepreneurship: time for a rethink? Research Paper No 32

Academic entrepreneurship, which refers to efforts undertaken by universities to promote commercialization on campus and in surrounding regions of the university, has changed dramatically in recent years. Two key consequences of this change are that more stakeholders have become involved in academic entrepreneurship and that universities have become more “strategic” in their approach to this activity. We assert that the time is ripe to rethink academic entrepreneurship. Specifically, theoretical and empirical research on academic entrepreneurship needs to take account of these changes, so as to improve the rigor and relevance of future studies on this topic. We outline such a framework and provide examples of key research questions that need to be addressed to broaden our understanding of academic entrepreneurship.

Research Report

ERC Annual Reports

The Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) was launched in January 2013 to deepen understanding in the UK of the factors affecting small and medium sized business
investment, performance and growth. The Centre is a collaborative venture between five University Business Schools: Warwick,Aston, Imperial, Strathclyde and Birmingham. ERC aims to build long term research capability
which will act as a focal point for world-class research on SMEs in the UK and internationally. Our work informs stronger SME strategy and policy development in the UK by developing and
drawing on the evidence base and providing commentary, evaluation and challenge to policy makers and those serving small and medium sized firms.
The ERC’s research programme is distinctive in that it aims to place SMEs in their operating context recognising that:
 growth is strongly influenced, both positively and negatively, by the business eco-system;
 growth depends significantly on the role of SME leadership and capability;
 different SMEs have very different ways of growing – organically or by acquisition – and the barriers and enablers of each type of growth, and in each type of firm, may be very different.

Download the 2013/2014 report here : https://www.enterpriseresearch.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/ERC-ANNUAL-REPORT-2013-14.pdf
Download the 214/2015 report here : https://www.enterpriseresearch.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/ERC-ANNUAL-REPORT-2014-15.pdf



Research Paper

The origin of spin-offs – A typology of corporate and academic spin-offs. Research Paper No 26

We provide a typology of corporate and academic spin-off types, distinguishing spin-offs involving new ventures from those that concern existing activities. We summarize the papers published in this special issue, relating them to the typology we develop. We conclude by developing an agenda for further research on spin-offs.

Research Report

A Nation of Angels. Assessing the impact of angel investment across the UK

The Enterprise Research Centre were commisioned by the UKBAA  in association with the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CfE) and with the support of the BVCA, Deloitte, Barclays and the ESRC, to produce a Research Study Report in order to  better understand the impact of angel investing on the growth of their investee businesses and the influence of these new developments in the marketplace and to identify what action UKBAA and other key players can take to further support the growth and effectiveness of angel investing.
The results of this study demonstrate the important role that angel investing is playing in the economy in bringing risk capital and business experience and skills to support the growth of small businesses, but also through creating social impact through their investments. Ultimately it is hoped this will reinforce the need for Governments , key stake holders and opinion formers to give continuing support to this “Nation of Angels” to enable the angel community to continue to grow and fulfil their important contribution to the UK economy.
Conducted by Prof Mark Hart, Deputy Director , ERC, Aston Business School , Prof Mike Wright, ERC, Imperial Business School and Dr Kun Fu, ERC , Imperial Business School  this report presents the results of the largest study of the investment behaviour and impact of business angels in the UK to date. The study comprised responses from 403 individual angels who responded to the online ‘Nation of Angels’ survey detailed follow-up telephone interviews with 42 individual angels who shared more details of their investment behaviour, and an online survey of 28 angel syndicate and network leads across the UK  representing ~8,000 angels.



Research Paper

ERC Research Paper. Creating Value in Ecosystems. Research Paper No 22



Financing Growth

Recent ERC research provides new insights into bank borrowing among UK SMEs and emphasises the potential value of effective company boards in helping firms to access appropriate finance. The evidence suggests that only around 1 in 7 small businesses in the UK seek bank funding. Yet we know that firms which do utilise external finance grow more rapidly. As the upswing takes hold what can be done to encourage more small firms to seek external finance to support their growth? Recent ERC research provides some of the answers and highlights other ‘known unknowns’.

Research Paper

Private Equity, Buy-outs, and Insolvency Risk. Research Paper No 8.

Private Equity restructuring using debt has been criticised for increasing financial distress and bankruptcy. This paper compares the insolvency hazard of various buy-out types within the corporate population and investigates the risk profile of the companies pre-buyout.

Research Paper

Business Survival and the Role of Boards. Research Paper No 1.

This paper examines the question of whether family firms are more likely to survive than non-family firms, focusing on the role of board composition.

White Paper

What Do We Know About The Relationship Between Entrepreneurial Finance and Growth? White Paper No 4.

This paper explores what we know about the relationship between entrepreneurial finance and growth in SMEs in the UK.