Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Entrepreneurship & Regional Development

For a Special Issue on

Grand Societal Challenges and Entrepreneurship In Emerging/Developing Economies

Manuscript deadline
28 February 2025

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Special Issue Editor(s)

Francis Donbesuur, University of Leicester, UK
[email protected]

Mathew (Mat) Hughes, University of Leicester, UK
[email protected]

Samuel Adomako, University of Birmingham, UK
[email protected]

Jintong Tang, Saint Louis University, USA
[email protected]

Georges Samara, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
[email protected]

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Grand Societal Challenges and Entrepreneurship In Emerging/Developing Economies

Overview and Motivation

The world is facing monumental grand societal challenges such as extreme poverty, climate change, pollution, health issues and inequality that potentially endanger the needs of over seven billion people. Public discourse highlights the prevailing political instability, economic volatility, and societal upheaval that characterize this decade (Adomako et al. 2023). Grand challenges, defined as “specific critical barrier(s) that, if removed, would help solve an important societal problem with a high likelihood of global impact through widespread implementation” (George et al., 2016, p. 4), are widely recognised as intricate issues with profound implications for society (Fernhaber and Zou, 2022; Brammer et al., 2019). They extend beyond the scope of individual firms or local communities, requiring broader engagement, unconventional approaches and collective action.  Given the intricate, uncertain, and evaluative nature of grand challenges, often termed "wicked problems" (Ferraro et al., 2015), addressing such wicked problems through entrepreneurship has become very important (e.g., Bouguerra et al, 2023; Sharafized et al, 2023; Bau et al, 2023). Entrepreneurial activities and processes such as entrepreneurial dispositions, orientations, strategies and initiatives become pivotal in addressing grand challenges–particularly in contexts that are characterized by resource and institutional deficiencies. Addressing these pressing issues provides entrepreneurs with an avenue to develop innovative solutions that can significantly impact the lives of people and communities.

Aims and scope of the special issue

Te special issue seeks to shed light on how entrepreneurs can contribute to addressing social challenges, including sustainability, through their personal characteristics, dispositions, activities and strategies. Although previous studies (e.g., Eisenhardt et al., 2016; Zahoor et al, 2023; Bouguerra et al, 2023; Jungk et al, 2023) have made progress in understanding how firms can address grand challenges and sustainable Development Goals, research and conversations that focus on specific entrepreneurial processes and attributes conducive to addressing grand challenges in resource-constrained and institutionally precarious environments, such as developing and emerging economies are often limited. Developing or emerging economies are often described as countries that are still strengthening their socio-economic and political structures, and are mostly characterized by lower standard of living, dysfunctional institutions, limited resources, high levels of informal arrangements and activities.  These economies face distinct societal challenges compared to developed nations (Fischer et al., 2018). These challenges may be rooted in factors such as limited infrastructure, political instability, weak institutions, high levels of poverty, and lack of access to basic services. Understanding the specific context in which entrepreneurship operates in these economies is crucial for designing effective solutions that address the root causes of these challenges. Moreover, entrepreneurs in developing or emerging countries have a deep understanding of the local context including cultural, social, and economic dynamics as well as a sense of belonging in the communities they operate within (Redhead and Bika, 2022). This intimate knowledge allows them to identify needs, gaps, and opportunities that might be overlooked by external actors.

We welcome theoretical, conceptual, and empirical papers. Submissions should provide novel insights, contribute to theory development, and offer practical implications for policymakers, entrepreneurs, and other relevant stakeholders. We look forward to receiving studies that employ both qualitative and quantitative research methods, longitudinal studies as well as those that use novel approaches and methods such as configurational approaches and critical research.  Potential research questions include, but are not limited to the following themes:

Theme 1: Conceptualization and measurement of grand challenges within the context of entrepreneurship

  • How can grand challenges within emerging/developing markets be conceptualized and effectively measured, considering the unique socio-economic contexts and resource constraints in these markets?
  • How can researchers effectively define and categorize grand societal challenges within the diverse and complex contexts of emerging/developing markets, considering cultural, economic, and social variations?
  • What key indicators and metrics should be utilized to quantify and measure the multifaceted dimensions of grand challenges in emerging/developing markets, considering the interconnectedness of economic, social, and environmental factors?
  • What comprehensive conceptual framework should be developed to encompass the dynamic nature of grand challenges in emerging/developing markets and guide strategic decision-making for entrepreneurial interventions?

How do different stakeholders, including academia, industry, government, and civil society, collaborate to collectively conceptualize and measure grand challenges in a way that facilitates effective cross-sectoral partnerships and interventions in emerging/developing markets?

Theme 2: Entrepreneurial resources, capabilities, and strategies for addressing grand challenges

  • What specific entrepreneurial resources and capabilities, such as bricolage, alertness, effectuation, and causation, are essential for entrepreneurs in addressing grand challenges in emerging/developing markets?
  • What are the relevant entrepreneurial characteristics, including attributes and diversity of entrepreneurial teams, and cognitive capabilities, that contribute to identifying entrepreneurial opportunities for addressing grand challenges in resource-constrained environments?
  • How do entrepreneurs in emerging/developing markets navigate the tensions and paradoxes between achieving economic rent and addressing grand challenges in the pursuit of new venture creation? What factors influence their motivations for simultaneously pursuing social and economic impacts?
  • What strategies (e.g., co-creation, collaborative innovations, networks, markets and non-market strategies) are conducive for entrepreneurial firms that seek to address grand challenges?
  • What role does entrepreneurial effectuation play in empowering entrepreneurs to creatively utilize available resources and navigate uncertainties to develop innovative solutions for addressing grand societal challenges in emerging/developing markets?
  • What role do family firms (compared to non-family firms) play in addressing grand challenges, and to what extent do the peculiar characteristics of family firms such as ownership structure, kinship, governance, risk taking propensity, among others contribute to addressing grand challenges.

Theme 3: Institutions, entrepreneurial processes, and grand societal challenges

  • How do institutional factors and frameworks act to shape the entrepreneurial processes that are aimed at addressing grand challenges?
  • What is the role of formal and informal institutions in helping entrepreneurs tackle grand challenges?
  • How do formal and informal institutions influence the entrepreneurial processes and strategies adopted by ventures aiming to address grand societal challenges in emerging/developing markets?
  • In what ways do regulatory frameworks, government policies, and legal structures support or hinder entrepreneurial initiatives targeting grand societal challenges in emerging/developing markets?
  • How do entrepreneurs collaborate with governmental, non-governmental, and international organizations to navigate and address grand societal challenges, and what roles do these collaborations play in shaping entrepreneurial processes in emerging/developing markets?
  • How do regional and global institutions act to provide resources, structures and knowledge integration necessary to drive entrepreneurial initiatives and process that aim to address grand challenges in emerging/developing markets?
  • How do entrepreneurs in emerging/developing markets develop relationships with regional and global institutions to co-create entrepreneurial solutions and social value.

Theme 4: Entrepreneurial ecosystems, collaborative innovation, and societal grand challenges

  • How do entrepreneurial ecosystems in emerging/developing markets foster collaboration and knowledge sharing among start-ups, established businesses, research institutions, and government entities to effectively address and tackle specific societal grand challenges within their regions?
  • What strategies can entrepreneurs employ to initiate and nurture partnerships within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, involving stakeholders such as investors, incubators, accelerators, and industry associations, to drive innovation and address complex societal grand challenges prevalent in their communities?
  • How does the presence of a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem contribute to the resilience and sustainability of start-ups striving to address societal grand challenges in resource-constrained environments, and what supportive elements within the ecosystem are crucial for this purpose?
  • In what ways can collaborative innovation, facilitated by entrepreneurial ecosystems, enhance the scalability and impact of entrepreneurial ventures aiming to address specific societal grand challenges, and what are the key success factors in fostering such collaborations?
  • How can public and private stakeholders collaborate to create an enabling environment within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, including policy frameworks, funding mechanisms (e.g., crowdfunding), and mentorship programs, to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship focused on addressing societal grand challenges within emerging/developing markets?


Submission Instructions

Submission Process

Submissions to this Special Issue will be opened on January 30, 2025 and closed on February 28, 2025. All submissions will be via Entrepreneurship & Regional Development’s online submission portal ( When submitting your manuscript, please select the Special Issue (SI): ‘‘Grand Societal Challenges and Entrepreneurship in Emerging/Developing Economies’’.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article