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Share your research with the Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Deadline: 30 September 2019

Special Issue Call for Papers

Failure and Entrepreneurship: Practice, Research and Pedagogy

Entrepreneurship is widely seen as central to economies, driving economic growth and job creation (Audretsch, Grilo and Thurik, 2007) but also with the potential to contribute to addressing societal challenges such as social exclusion and disadvantage (Greene, Mole and Storey, 2007). However, in focusing on the benefits and opportunities of entrepreneurship it is important not to overlook failure (Wapshott and Mallett, 2018). This Special Issue seeks to address this by developing a multifaceted approach to failure in the practice, research and pedagogy of entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is associated with failure in political and popular discourse in ways that focus on failure as a route to learning and eventual success (Olaison and Sørensen, 2014). The incorporation of these assumptions into an over-archiving narrative of success risks obscuring and underplaying the psychological, social and financial consequences of different types of failure in entrepreneurship (Khelil, 2016; Mantere et al., 2013; Ucbasaran et al., 2010, 2013). Engaging with failure seriously, whereby it is an outcome in itself as well as part of a journey to eventual success, is necessary to build authentic images and deeper understanding of entrepreneurship as experienced by those who pursue it.

As entrepreneurship researchers we also need to discuss our own failures. This is necessitated by the need to address the dangers of a positive-outcome bias in published research across disciplines potentially leading to the suppression of negative results (Easterbrook et al., 1991; Fanelli, 2012). Like other fields of research, studies of entrepreneurship face risks of publication bias in terms of favouring ‘successful’ studies and obscuring those that fail to provide support for earlier findings or theories and studies that seek to innovate or pioneer but fail by some measure to fully achieve their goals. This also suggests that consideration is needed in terms of how to interpret and report such findings (Hauck and Anderson, (1986). Publishing and discussing negative findings may be particularly important in testing the applicability and relevance of dominant Western theories in different national and cultural contexts in order to effectively facilitate the international development of entrepreneurship theory. The Special Issue is therefore particularly keen to receive studies from a range of national and cultural perspectives and especially comparative work on these bases.

Engaging with experiences of failure in entrepreneurship and the limitations of how research shapes our knowledge of entrepreneurship has implications for how pedagogy in this field is constructed (Shepherd, 2004). Accounts of failure might help temper over-reliance on the stories of high-profile winners, which tell us very little (Neck and Greene, 2011), but how can these be incorporated into programmes of learning about entrepreneurship? Pedagogical development and innovation may also benefit from our own stories of failure. Accounts of pedagogy engaging with failure in meaningful ways will be most welcome.

The following themes are of interest, however all submissions that address the substantive area are welcome:

  1. Failure in entrepreneurship – on whose terms and how is this evaluated?
  2. The consequences of failing in entrepreneurship, such as bankruptcy, loss of confidence and the effects on those surrounding the entrepreneur;
  3. Failures of entrepreneurship research, negative findings;
  4. Failures of cross-cultural replication and how this could offer vital insights;
  5. Failed innovations in research methods or entrepreneurship education;
  6. The emerging area of critical entrepreneurship studies and the practical implications of its insights;
  7. The implications of understanding failure for effective entrepreneurship education.

Submission Guidelines

We welcome submissions adopting diverse methodological approaches along with contributions from international teams of colleagues. Even where discussing failures of research, submissions must attend to the journal’s standards and requirements in terms of utilising the material to make a significant contribution to relevant debates.

In focusing on a topic such as ‘failure’ we emphasise that contributors should have regard for their research participants. Our aim here is to generate further discussion of failure in entrepreneurship as a topic and as something for researchers to engage with seriously. We are not setting out to label people as ‘failures’.

For initial enquiries and expressions of interest please contact:

Dr. Oliver Mallett, Associate Editor for Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Full papers are due by September 30, 2019 and the Special Issue is scheduled to publish January 2021. Papers must be original and comply with JSBE submissions. Refer to our website for submission guidelines and a link to the on-line submission system. In the on-line system, make sure you submit your script within Manuscript Type: ‘Special Issue: Failures in Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurship Research’.

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Audretsch, D.B., Grilo, I. and Thurik, A.R. (2007). Explaining entrepreneurship and the role of policy: a framework. In: Audretsch, D.B., Grilo, I. and Thurik, A.R. (Eds.) Handbook of research on entrepreneurship policy. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp.1-17.

Easterbrook, P.J., Gopalan, R., Berlin, J.A. and Matthews, D.R. (1991). Publication bias in clinical research. The Lancet, 337(8746), 867-872.

Fanelli, D. (2012). Negative results are disappearing from most disciplines and countries. Scientometrics, 90(3), 891-904.

Greene, F.J., Mole, K. and Storey, D.J. (2008). Three Decades of Enterprise Culture: Entrepreneurship, Economic Regeneration and Public Policy. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Hauck, W.W. and Anderson, S. (1986). A proposal for interpreting and reporting negative studies. Statistics in Medicine, 5(3), 203-209.

Khelil, N. (2016). The many faces of entrepreneurial failure: Insights from an empirical taxonomy. Journal of Business Venturing, 31(1), 72-94.

Mantere, S., Aula, P., Schildt, H. and Vaara, E. (2013). Narrative attributions of entrepreneurial failure. Journal of Business Venturing, 28(4), 459-473.

Neck, H.M. and Greene, P.G. (2011). Entrepreneurship education: Known worlds and new frontiers. Journal of Small Business Management, 49(1), 55-70.

Olaison, L. and Sørensen, B.M. (2014). The abject of entrepreneurship: failure, fiasco, fraud. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 20(2), 193-211.

Shepherd, D.A. (2004). Educating entrepreneurship students about emotion and learning from failure. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 3(3), 274-287.

Ucbasaran, D., Westhead, P., Wright, M. and Flores, M. (2010). The nature of entrepreneurial experience, business failure and comparative optimism. Journal of Business Venturing, 25(6), 541-555.

Ucbasaran, D., Shepherd, D.A., Lockett, A. and Lyon, S.J. (2013). Life after business failure: The process and consequences of business failure for entrepreneurs. Journal of Management, 39(1), 163-202.

Wapshott, R. and Mallett, O. (2018). Small and medium-sized enterprise policy: Designed to fail? Environment and Planning C, 36(4), 750-772.

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