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Coming out of an economic crisis: the role of entrepreneurship in fostering innovation in times of greater uncertainty


Guest editors:

Caleb Kwong 

Essex Business School, University of Essex 

Piers Thompson 

Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University 


The current economic crisis that first became apparent in the US mortgage market and has since spread to affect banks’ credit ratings, European sovereign debt and beyond, has understandably had social and economic ramifications throughout the developed and developing worlds. The crisis has disturbed not only business patterns, but also the public sector services that have traditionally supported businesses through the creation of an appropriate trading environment, knowledge and social support (Paunov, 2012). The world’s financial and economic status quo can no longer be maintained, with the very existence of the existing business and market organisational structures and practices being threatened (Courvisanos, 2009). The uncertainties present in local, regional, national and international economies have forced governments, third sector organisations and businesses to rethink their existing strategies (Filippetti and Archibugi, 2011). Many have opted to undertake efforts to restructure and transform in a bid to reinvent themselves under the new order (Courvisanos, 2009). Although the form that restructuring and transformation take can vary greatly it is only likely to be successful where entrepreneurial individuals use creative and innovative approaches to think beyond the previous approaches (Rodrigues and Melo, forthcoming). Understandably, evidence suggests that the dynamic capabilities of firms are positively associated with growth during periods of crisis as high-technology firms in particular are forced to adapt their products to meet changing demand conditions and requirements of their customers (Piva et al., 2012). Further, organisations in both the private and third sectors have had to develop new strategies to access alternative funding sources as large clients, particularly the public sector, reduce spending (Thompson and Williams, forthcoming). The need to rethink previous strategies can even influence organisational form, with conditions of crisis requiring new working relationships involving greater cooperation and strategic alliances, further blurring the boundaries between the firm and external contractors.

It is important to bear in mind that it is the everyday people who suffer from the effects of recession. Whilst the GDP of some of the economies may have began to recover, many of the people within these economies continued to experience hardship, including persistent high unemployment rates, the collapse of house values and decline in associated wealth, along with increases in personal bankruptcies, petrol and food prices that have squeezed the standard of living experienced. Therefore, studies examining the way people cope with the changes and uncertainties is of particular relevance at this point in time. In fact periods of recession may also be periods of greater innovation as resources can more easily be moved from established declining markets to growing new markets (OECD, 2009). Thus, whilst throwing up challenges, the crisis also represents an opportunity for entrepreneurially minded organisations and individuals within a variety of settings. An understanding of where entrepreneurial activities can flourish and provide new routes to recovery in uncertain and weakened markets is therefore of importance for decision-makers at all levels, from households, through managers of existing businesses, to policy-makers attempting to cultivate such activities.

In the context of a changing and evolving global economy, entrepreneurship in its wider definition of opportunity identification and exploitation, has gained increasing attention among scholars, business practitioners and policy makers. During this period of greater uncertainty and increased constraints it would appear that entrepreneurial individuals and activities would seem to be of particular importance in identifying new innovative opportunities and business practices that enable firms to survive where established approaches are no longer appropriate. The low growth and falling new venture creation rates experienced by many economies of the past five years suggest that entrepreneurship within businesses alone is unlikely to be sufficient, and examples of entrepreneurially driven innovation in the third sector may be of equal importance. This is particularly so where these entrepreneurial strategies will enable these actors to fulfil their roles within the regional or national innovation systems and through their collaboration with the private sector aid firm survival and potentially employment creation. Similarly, policies and resources provided to encourage and enhance entrepreneurial activities within new and existing business are also likely to play a vital role. The editors of this special issue of the Journal of General Management invite researchers, practitioners and policy-makers to submit papers on the above themes. We encourage papers which consider issues including, but are not limited to, the following themes:  

  • How technologically-originated individuals, organisations and countries can emerge out of the financial crisis using the entrepreneurial route.

  • The role of leaders in either the private or third sectors in inspiring and managing the innovative activities of entrepreneurial subordinates. 

  • Development, implementation, and/or assessment of national, regional and local innovation systems and/or entrepreneurship policies in the time of crisis. 

  • The influence that economic uncertainty has had upon the decision to pursue entrepreneurial activities and utilise entrepreneurial behaviours within businesses.

  • The use of social innovation in facilitating growth and economic recovery both in developed and emerging nations. 

  • The role of university entrepreneurship education in the creation of an innovative and entrepreneurial environment and workforce capable of responding to the challenges of the new era.

  • Factors associated with the economic crisis that form barriers to entrepreneurial and innovative activities.

  • Methods to cope with and manage the wickedness of strategy choices (Camillus, 2008) for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) during and beyond periods of crisis. 

This is not an exhaustive list and papers covering other themes within the broader topic of entrepreneurship’s role in fostering innovation that aids businesses and economies to survive and emerge from the economic crisis will be considered. We welcome both theoretical and empirical papers. However, priority will be given to papers based on quality research that generates strong managerial and policy implications. International submissions and comparative studies are welcomed. As a practitioner oriented journal, the guest editors invite empirical research through conventional research methods (field surveys, case study) and emerging methodologies – as long as the choice of methods is not only appropriate for the research questions but also accessible to general managers.

Deadlines and submission instructions

Deadline for submission of papers: 1st May 2013.

Reports from referees sent to authors: 1st July 2013.

Submission of revised papers: 1st September 2013.

Expected publication date: 31st December 2013.

To submit your manuscript, please follow the Journal of General Management author guidelines (Guidelines for authors) and keep the length of your manuscript no longer than 7,000 words, excluding references, tables and figures. To reflect the wide audience of the Journal of General Management please include an executive summary as part of your manuscript. Please submit your papers by email to Please indicate your submission to this special issue and your submission will be acknowledged. Please omit author(s) details in your main document to facilitate our double-blind peer review through two independent experts together with one industry practitioner when appropriate. If you would like further information about this special issue please contact:   Caleb Kwong  Essex Business School, University of Essex  Email:


Camillus, J. (2008), ‘Strategy as a wicked problem’, Harvard Business Review, May, pp. 99-131. 
Courvisanos, J. (2009), ‘Political aspects of innovation’, Research Policy, Vol. 38, No. 7, pp. 1117-1124.  Filippetti, A. and Archibugi, D. (2011), ‘Innovation in times of crisis: national systems of innovation, structure, and demand’, Research Policy, Vol. 40, No.  2, pp. 179-192.
Paunov, C. (2012), ‘The global crisis and firms’ investments in innovation’, Research Policy, Vol. 41, No. 1, pp. 24-35.  OECD (2009), Policy Responses to the Economic Crisis: Investing in Innovation for Long-Term Growth, Paris: OECD.
Piva, E. Colombo, M. Quas, A. and Rossi-Lamastra, C. (2012), How doyoung entrepreneurial ventures in high-tech sectors react to the global crisis?, Paper presented at DRUID, 19-21 June, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Rodrigues, C. and Melo, A. (forthcoming), ‘The triple helix model as an instrument of local response to the economic crisis’, European Planning Studies, DOI 10.1080/09654313.2012.709063.  Thompson,
P. and Williams, R. (forthcoming) ‘Taking your eyes off the objective: the relationship between income sources and satisfaction with achieving objectives in the UK third sector’, Voluntas, DOI 10.1007/s1 1266-012-9326-5.