Understanding the use of digital technologies in entrepreneurial start-up settings and growth–oriented firms

  in Special Issue   Posted on September 28, 2020

Information for the Special Issue

Special Issue Call for Papers:

Understanding the use of digital technologies in entrepreneurial start-up settings and growth –oriented firms

Entrepreneurship contributes to the national and world economy in areas of employment, finance and economic growth and has received a lot of attention among academics, practitioners and policy makers (Janson and Wrycza, 1999; Rosenbaum and Cronin, 1993; Nambisan et al., 2019; Olanrewaju et al., 2020). The “entrepreneurship ecosystem” has become the principal symbol for leveraging an economic development strategy capable of nurturing entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship ecosystems consist of interconnected elements that facilitate innovation and growth of entrepreneurship (Fetters et al., 2010; Kantis and Federico, 2012). Entrepreneurship ecosystem aims to include an encouraging environment through availability of financing, the acquisition and development of human capital, new markets for products and services and various governmental and infrastructural supports (Isenberg, 2011). Part of the entrepreneurial ecosystems is the development of programs, policies and initiatives to promote entrepreneurship and grow entrepreneurial activity across regions (Isenberg, 2014). In modern entrepreneurial ecosystems, a crucial role digitalisation which shapes value creation, delivery and capture in the economy and society (Von Briel et al., 2018 a,b; Nambisan et al., 2017; Nambisan et al., 2019; Yoo et al., 2010).

More specifically, the use of internet and ICT technologies enhance entrepreneurial activities as they provide access to the digital enterprise platform (Accenture, 2014; LeBlanc, 2015; Schmidt, 2011). Globally, digital technologies enhance entrepreneurial opportunity exploitation (Castells, 2010; Hu et al., 2016; Hull et al., 2007; Mole and Mole, 2010). Digital entrepreneurship has been defined as ‘the pursuit of opportunities based on the use of digital media and other information and communication technologies’ (Davidson and Vaast, 2010: 2). Digital entrepreneurship embraces all new ventures and the transformation of existing businesses that drive economic and/or social value by creating and using novel digital technologies (Fang et al., 2018; Nambisan, 2017). Digital enterprises are characterized by a high intensity of utilization of novel digital technologies (particularly social, big data, mobile and cloud solutions) to improve business operations, invent new business models, sharpen business intelligence, and engage with customers and stakeholders. They create the jobs and growth opportunities of the future (Huang et al., 2017; Nambisan et al., 2017; European Commission, 20015).

Technologies such as social media, open-source software and hardware, crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, e-trust and online reputation assessment, 3Dprinting, digital imaging, and big data are empowering would-be entrepreneurs to reduce the barriers between idea of venture formation and the actual creation phase (Steininger 2019; Olanrewaju et al., 2020). The use of digital tools and platforms is favoring the emergence of new type of jobs that is hard to classify unambiguously in the traditional categories of employment, self-employment, freelance, or growth-oriented entrepreneurial undertakings. In the same vein, Steininger (2019) highlights that information and communication technology (ICT) plays four major roles in digital entrepreneurial operations: as a facilitator, making the operations of start-ups easier; as a mediator for new ventures’ operations; as an outcome of entrepreneurial operations; and as an ubiquitous enabler of new digital business models. However, the analysis of DE cannot be reduced to the addition of ICT or to traditional entrepreneurship.

However, there is skepticism regarding the success of ICT-led initiatives has also been voiced in academic literature (Kuriyan et al.2008; Parmar et al., 2007; Marsical, 2005; Fors and Moreno, 2002), and hence the assessments of the impact of ICT intervention on entrepreneurial and business development remain inconclusive, indicating the need for further studies (Berger et al., 2019; Thapa and Sæbø, 2014; Rashid and Elder, 2009; Donner, 2006). If technology is to contribute to development, it has to be integrated into the social and professional lives of the target users. The uptake of technology does not in itself guarantee continued use and positive impacts. Many of the technology adoption models, such as the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM: Davis, 1989; Venkatesh and Bala, 2008), the Innovation Diffusion Theory (IDT: Rogers, 1995), the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB: Ajzen, 1991), and the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT: Venkatesh et al., 2003) are based on organizational use of technology and have limited applications in assessing technology adoption by entrepreneurs who have varied needs, expertise, knowledge and experience. The extent of scholarly works on ICT use by entrepreneurs across various industries in is also sparse. Therefore, there is a need to shift away from or update these frameworks and theories (e.g. Meta-UTAUT by Dwivendi et al., 2019) in order to explain the dynamics of technology use and the iterative nature of the interaction between human agents and technological applications. Longitudinal, qualitative, and more in-depth enquiries are hence needed, supported by theories such as Structuration Theory (Giddens, 1986; Jones and Karsten, 2008), and sociomateriality (Orlikowski and Scott, 2008; Cecez -Kecmanoviz et al., 2014) amongst others.

As duality of technology and interpretive flexibility of technology suggest human capability, social practice and technological applications can have iterative interactions leading to reciprocal influence (Autio et al., 2018; Orlikowski, 1992; Orlikowski, 2001; Dey et al. 2011). Hence, entrepreneurs’ interaction of the proposed digital technologies will enable us to assess what problems they encounter while dealing with technology in a given socio-cultural contexts, how they overcome those problems, what benefits they can achieve, and how and to what extent such interactions can enhance their capacity for entrepreneurial activities. More specifically, it will be key to assess how digital platforms mediated services foster their entrepreneurial skills and competencies (Berger et al., 2019; Srinivasan and Venkatraman, 2018). This will contribute to the current understanding of technology use by entrepreneurs and impact of digital technologies on business growth in developed and in developing region context and beyond.

For this special issue we invite conceptual and empirical papers that help illuminate the use of digital technologies in entrepreneurial start-up settings as well as in growth –oriented firms. We are particularly interested in novel methodologies, and conceptualisations of digital entrepreneurship; studies that explore entrepreneurship in age of technology and globalisation in new contexts (i.e. by geography, industry or sector, culturally or within different institutional settings).


Potential topics and research questions can include but are not limited to:

  • How should digital entrepreneurship be better conceptualised so as to better understand the growth dimensions of venture creation?
  • On global megatrends (e.g. digitalisation) how can we measure and monitor the impacts of new technologies on entrepreneurial success? How can we identify persistent under-adoption of technologies?
  • How digital technologies transform and or mediate entrepreneurial outcomes and processes?
  • How digital technology unfolds in digital platforms and multi-sided markets?
  • How digital information helps us to understand the process of consumption and capture value from users?
  • Which digital skills and knowledge entrepreneurs need the global and digital economy?

Important Dates

Manuscript submission deadline: 15-Jan-2021

Notification of Review: 30-May-2021

Revision due: 31-Jul-2021

Notification of 2nd Review: 15-Oct-2021

2nd Revision [if needed] due: 1-Dec-2021

Notification of Final Acceptance: 20-Dec-2021

Submission Guidelines

All submissions have to be prepared according to the Guide for Authors as published in the Journal website at: https://www.elsevier.com/journals/international-journal-of-information-management/0268-4012/guide-for-authors

Authors should select “SI: digital entrepreneurship”, from the “Choose Article Type” pull- down menu during the submission process. All contributions must not have been previously published or be under consideration for publication elsewhere. Link for submission of manuscript is: https://www.evise.com/evise/jrnl/IJIM

A submission based on one or more papers that appeared elsewhere has to comprise major value-added extensions over what appeared previously (at least 50% new material). Authors are requested to attach to the submitted paper their relevant, previously published articles and a summary document explaining the enhancements made in the journal version.

All submitted papers will undergo a rigorous peer-review process that will consider programmatic relevance, scientific quality, significance, originality, style and clarity.

The acceptance process will focus on papers that address original contributions in the form of theoretical, empirical and case research, which lead to new perspectives. Papers must be grounded on the body of scholarly works in this area (exemplified by some of the references below) but yet discover new frontiers so that collectively, the Special Section will serve communities of researchers and practitioners as an archival repository of the state of the art in data-driven innovation.

Guest Editors

Maria Balta
Kent Business School (Medway Campus), University of Kent, UK

Konstantina Spanaki
School of Business and Economics
Loughborough University

Thanos Papadopoulos
Kent Business School (Medway Campus), University of Kent, UK

M. N. Ravishankar
School of Business and Economics
Loughborough University


Accenture (2014) The promise of digital entrepreneurs: Creating 10 million youth jobs in the Accenture Promise Digital Entrepreneurs Creating 10-Million Youth Jobs G20-Countries. G20 countries. Available at: http://www.accenture.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/PDF/pdf

Ajzen, I (1991) The Theory of Planned Behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 50(2): 179-211.

Autio E, Nambisan S, Thomas LDW and Wright M (2018) Digital affordances, spatial affordances, and the genesis of entrepreneurial ecosystems. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. 12(1): 72– 95.

Berger ESC, von Briel F, Davidsson P and Kuckertz A (2019) Digital or Not: The Future of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Journal of Business Research. Available online 24 December 2019 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.12.020

Castells M (2010) The Rise of the Network Society. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Cecez-Kecmanovic D, Galliers RD, Henfridsson O, Newell S and Vidgen R (2014). Introduction to special issue: The sociomateriality of information systems: current status, future directions. MIS Quarterly 38(3): 809-830.

Davidson E and Vaast E (2010) Digital entrepreneurship and its sociomaterial enactment. In: System Sciences (HICSS), 2010 43rd Hawaii International Conference. Honolulu, HI, 5–8 January. Available at: http://www.hicss.hawaii.edu/bp43/IN6.pdf

Davis FD (1989) Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology. MIS Quarterly 13(3): 319-340.

Dey BL, Newman DR and Prendergast, R (2011) Analysing appropriation and usability in social and occupational lives: An investigation of Bangladeshi farmers’ use of mobile telephony. Information Technology and People 24(1):46-63.

Donner, J (2006) Research Approaches to Mobile Use in the Developing World: A Review of the Literature, The Information Society, 24(3), 140–59.

Dwivendi Y, Rana N P, Jeyaraj A, Clement M and Williams M D (2019) Re-examining the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT): Towards a Revised Theoretical Model. Information Systems Frontiers 21: 719-734.

European Commission (2015) European Commission (EC), Digital Transformation of European Industry and Enterprises; A report of the Strategic Policy Forum on Digital Entrepreneurship, available from: http://ec.europa.eu/DocsRoom/documents/9462/attachments/1/translations/en/renditions/native (3) (PDF) Digital Entrepreneurship: Research and Practice. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309242001_Digital_Entrepreneurship_Research_and_Practice [accessed Mar 18 2020].

Fang Y, Henfridsson O and Jarvenpaa S L (2018) Editorial on Generating Business and Social Value from Digital Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Journal of Strategic Information Systems 27(4): 275–277.

Fetters ML, Greene PG, Rice MP and Butler JS (2010) The Development of University-Based Entrepreneurship Ecosystems. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham UK (2010)

Fors M and Moreno A (2002) The benefits and obstacles of implementing ICT strategies for development from a bottom-up approach. Aslib Proceedings 54 (3): 198–206.

Giddens, A. (1984). The Constitution of Society, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Hu H, Huang T, Zeng Q and Zhang S (2016). The role of institutional entrepreneurship in building digital ecosystem: A case study of Red Collar Group (RCG). International Journal of Information Management 36(3): 496-499.

Huang J, Henfridsson O, Liu M J and Newell S (2017) Growing on Steroids: Rapidly Scaling the User Base of Digital Ventures through Digital Innovation. MIS Quarterly 41(1), pp. 301–314

Hull CE, Hung YC and Hair N (2007) Taking advantage of digital opportunities: A typology of digital entrepreneurship. International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations 4(3): 290–303.

Isenberg D (2011) The entrepreneurship ecosystem strategy as a new paradigm for economic policy: Principles for cultivating entrepreneurship, invited presentation at the Institute of International and European Affairs, Dublin, Ireland, May 12.

Isenberg D (2014) What an entrepreneurship ecosystem actually is. Harvard Business Review 5(May): 1-7.

Janson M A. and Wrycza S (1999) Information technology and entrepreneurship: three cases from Poland. International Journal of Information Management 19 (5): 351-367.

Jones M R and Karsten H (2008) Giddens’s Structuration Theory and Information Systems Research. MIS Quarterly 32 (1): 127-157

Kantis HD and Federico J (2012) Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Latin America: The role of policies. Liverpool: International Research and Policy Roundtable (Kauffman Foundation).

Kuriyan R, Ray I and Toyama K (2008) Information communication technologies for development: the bottom of the pyramid model in practice. The Information Society 24( 2): 1-12.

LeBlanc C (2015) Why the rise of DIY business tools is good for women business owners. Huffington Post, 29 January. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cat-leblanc/why-the-rise-of-diy-business-tools-is-good-for-women-business-owners_b_6544782.html

Marsical J (2005) Digital Divide in a Developing Country. Telecommunications Policy 29(5-6):409-428

Mole KF and Mole M (2010) Entrepreneurship as the structuration of individual and opportunity: A response using a critical realist perspective: Comment on Sarason, Dean and Dillard. Journal of Business Venturing 25(2): 230–237.

Nambisan S, Lyytinen K, Majchrzak A and Song M (2017) Digital innovation management: Reinventing innovation management research in a digital world. MIS Quarterly 41: 223-236.

Nambisan S, Lyytinen K, Majchrzak, A and Song M (2017) Digital Innovation Management: Reinventing Innovation Management Research in a Digital World. MIS Quarterly 41(1): 223– 238.

Nambisan S, Wright M and Feldman M (2019) The digital transformation of innovation and entrepreneurship: Progress, challenges and key themes. Research Policy 48 (8): 1037-1073.

Nambisan, S (2017) Digital Entrepreneurship: Toward a Digital Technology Perspective of Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 41 (6): 1029-1055.

Olanrewaju A S T, Hossain M A, Whiteside N, and Mercieca P (2020) Social media and entrepreneurship research: A literature review. International Journal of Information Management 50: 90-110.

Orlikowski W J (1992) The duality of technology: rethinking the concept of technology in organisations. Organisation Science 3(3):398-427.

Orlikowski W J and Iacono CS (2001) Research commentary: Desperately seeking the “IT” in IT research—A call to theorizing the IT artefact. Information Systems Research 7 (1): 121-134.

Orlikowski WJ and Scott SV (2008). Sociomateriality: Challenging the separation of technology, work and organization. Academy of Management Annals 2(1): 433-474.

Parmer V, Keyson D and de Bont C (2007) IFIP international federation for information processing, shaping social belief: a community sensitive health information system for rural India, in Venkatesh T. Gonzalves, A. Monk and K. Buckner (Eds) Home Informatics and Telematics: ICTs for the next billion, 133-144.

Rashid A T and Rahman M (2009) Making profit to solve development problems: the case of Telenor AS and the Village Phone Programme in Bangladesh. Journal of Marketing Management, 25(9), 1049–1060.

Rogers EM (1995) Diffusion of Innovations. 4th Edition, the Free Press, New York.

Rosenbaum H and Cronin B (1993) Digital entrepreneurship: Doing business on the information superhighway. International Journal of Information Management 13 (6): 461-463.

Schmidt E (2011) The internet is the path to Britain’s prosperity. The Daily Telegraph, 16 May. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/internet/8515771/The-internet-is-thepath-to-Britains-prosperity.html

Srinivasan A and Venkatraman N (2018) Entrepreneurship in Digital Platforms: A Network Centric View. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal 12(1): 54–71.

Steininger DM (2019) Linking information systems and entrepreneurship: A review and agenda for IT‐associated and digital entrepreneurship research. Information Systems Journal 29: 363– 407.

Thapa, D and Sæbø, Ø (2014) Exploring the Link between ICT and Development in the Context of Developing Countries: A Literature Review. The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries 64: 1-15.

Venkatesh V and Bala H (2008) Technology Acceptance Model 3 and a Research Agenda on Interventions. Decision Sciences 39: 273-315.

Venkatesh V, Morris M G, Davis G B and Davis F D (2003) Acceptance of Information Technology: Toward a Unified View. MIS Quarterly, 27: 425 – 478

von Briel F, Davidsson P and Recker J (2018a) Digital Technologies as External Enablers of New Venture Creation in the IT Hardware Sector. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 42(1): 47–69.

von Briel F, Recker J and Davidsson P (2018b) Not All Digital Venture Ideas Are Created Equal: Implications for Venture Creation Processes. Journal of Strategic Information Systems 27(4): 278–295.

Yoo Y, Henfridsson O and Lyytinen, K. (2010)The new organizing logic of digital innovation: An agenda for information systems research. Information Systems Research 21 (4): 724-735.

Other Special Issues on this journal

Closed Special Issues


Gamification in Marketing

International Journal of Information Management
Fri 31 Jan 2020