Women and Under-Represented Minorities in High-Growth Entrepreneurship in the US: Challenges and Opportunities

*Please note: This special conference is supported by SEJ and is seeking submissions for this special conference. Despite this call for proposal's location on the SMS website, no special issue is being planned in association with this special conference. Please read the call for papers and download the full call for more details.

Submission Deadline: September 5, 2022

A conference at the Brookings Institution, Washington, DC

November 9-10, 2022


Supported by:

Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis

Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal

The Bellwether Foundation

Women represent 50.5% of the US population, yet recent reports suggest that only 2% of venture capital money went to female founders in 2021. Those identifying as Black or African American represent 13.6% of the US population, but black founders received only about 1% of venture financing in 2020 and 1.4% in 2021. People identifying as Hispanic or Latino represent 18.9% of the US population; data from Crunchbase suggests that Hispanic or Latino founders receive only about 2% of venture funding.

While the challenges faced by women and under-represented minorities in accessing venture financing are well-known, the causes of the persistent gap between representation at the population level and financing are less well understood. An understanding of the root causes is a key input to designing public and private policy solutions to address the gap. This conference aims to highlight academic work that explores these causes.

A unique feature of this conference is its connection to practice. The conference supports a practitioner-led commission to address these challenges. Ten commissioners, comprised of entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, and venture capitalists will join the conference participants and engage in dialog about their work. The list of commissioners can be found at the end of this announcement.

This conference is supported by the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal (SEJ), a premier outlet for scholarly research on entrepreneurship, and by the journal’s parent organization, the Strategic Management Society.

Through the generosity of the Bellwether Foundation and the Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis, travel to and lodging in Washington, DC will be paid for one author of each accepted paper.

Strategic Entrepreneurship in Craft-Based Ventures

Submission Window: October 15, 2022 to November 1, 2022

Strategic entrepreneurship (SE) is entrepreneurial action with a strategic perspective (Hitt, Ireland, Camp & Sexton, 2001). It captures firms’ efforts to consider both opportunity-seeking (i.e., exploration) and advantage-seeking (i.e., exploitation) behaviors to create value and a sustainable competitive advantage – end goals of both strategic management and entrepreneurship (Hitt, Ireland, Sirmon & Trahms, 2011). Traditionally, it was argued that large, established firms were challenged to be more entrepreneurial, while smaller, entrepreneurial ventures were challenged to be more strategic. On-going research has demonstrated that SE is a nuanced concept that plays out differently beyond the large/small, young/old divide. Indeed, significant gains in our understanding of SE – its value and complexity – have been found by examining a range of organizational forms (e.g., public, private, family) and contexts (e.g., institutional development, technological intensity). However, these treatments have largely overlooked a historically critical type of venture that is becoming increasingly relevant once again – the craft-based venture (e.g., Cattani, Dunbar, & Shapira, 2017; Kuhn & Galloway, 2015; Mathias, Huyghe, Frid, & Galloway, 2018).

While craft-based ventures have often been used as an interesting context to advance established theories, recent research has argued that craft deserves more dedicated attention (Bell et al., 2018; Kroezen, Ravasi, Sasaki, Żebrowska, & Suddaby, 2021). Following popular philosophical work (e.g., Adamson, 2018; Bennett, 2010; Crawford, 2009; Sennett, 2008), scholars have argued that craft is associated with a fundamental alternative approach to learning, working, producing and consuming that prioritizes materiality and skillful human engagement which sharply contrasts with conventional norms and initiatives driving most organizations (Bell & Vacchani, 2019; Kroezen et al., 2021; Suddaby, Ganzin, & Minkus, 2017).

Indeed, despite craft-based ventures being common in certain parts of the world, the economic and social impact of craft in industrialized nations is reaching a critical threshold. For instance, in 2020,, an online retail platform of crafted goods, reported sales greater than US$11 billion. Impressively, Etsy’s sales revenue is estimated to still be less than 1% of the global market share of manufactured craft goods. Even more, whole sectors are now being reshaped through the resurgence of craft. Examples of industries being affected include beer brewing (Kroezen & Heugens, 2019), watch making (Oertel & Thommes, 2018; Raffaelli, 2019), fashion (Korica & Bazin, 2019), and agriculture (Weber, Heinze, & DeSoucey, 2008). And craft-based ventures are offering non-trivial solutions to the problems of environmental sustainability (Sikavica & Pozner, 2013) as well as opening alternative paths to entrepreneurship (Stinchfield, Nelson, & Wood, 2013; Kuhn & Galloway, 2015).

While craft is often intuitively associated with artisanal forms of manufacturing that appear inherently backward-looking, a closer look at the literature reveals that the concept has always had much broader applicability, such as in Mintzberg’s (1987) use of craft to capture a distinct approach to the making of strategy or in the example of the popular notion of “software craftsmanship” that laid the foundation for the “agile” movement (Beck et al., 2001; McBreen, 2002). Indeed, many contemporary craft-based initiatives are highly innovative and forward-looking (Browder, Aldrich & Bradley, 2019). For instance, the whole mechanical watch industry had to accelerate the rate of innovation in both organization and methods of production to survive the quartz crisis, which led to a surprising reconfiguration of the sector (Raffaelli, 2019). As of 2020, crafted mechanical watches comprise 86% of the Swiss watch industry’s export value.

However, compared to the impressive contributions of craft-based ventures to society, our knowledge of SE in craft-based ventures is very limited. As such, the purpose of this special issue is to extend our understanding of how craft-based ventures conduct SE. That is, how, if at all, they combine “both effectiveness and efficiency-oriented forms of newness” to explore tomorrow’s opportunities while exploiting today’s competitive advantages (Ireland & Webb, 2007: 52). And indeed, there are a number of unexplored or underexplored areas of research at the intersection of SE and craft-based economy that can illuminate our understanding of entrepreneurship and strategic management in craft-based ventures (Shepherd, Wennberg, Suddaby & Wiklund, 2019). For example, with the rapid advance of internet technologies and platform economies, craft-based ventures that had to traditionally rely exclusively on local consumers received sudden access to world markets. This has led to the increasing internationalization of craft-based ventures which now face unique opportunities and challenges as a result (e.g., Sasaki, Nummela, & Ravasi, 2021). These advances appeared to have played an important role in the survival of particular craft skills and associated ventures that had been on the brink of extinction. Another example is our lack of knowledge of the interplay between family dynamics and craft philosophy in craft-based ventures, which appears relevant as many craft-based products and services result from the lasting and dedicated work of generations of families that traditionally have substantially contributed to local economies (Hoskisson, Chirico, Zyung & Gambeta, 2017). Yet, apart from a few recent exceptions (e.g., Erdogan, Rondi, & De Massis, 2020; Sasaki, Ravasi, & Micelotta, 2019; Thurnell-Read, 2021; Ruef, 2020), there has been little cross-fertilization between craft-based research and the family firm literature (cf. Suddaby & Jaskiewicz, 2020). Other underexplored areas include, among others, the interplay between craft and tradition in the construction of authenticity, the interplay between craft and innovation in the context of the rise of artificial intelligence (cf. Murray, Rhymer, Sirmon, forthcoming), craft-approaches to engaging with various stakeholders (cf. Hitt et al., 2011; Murray, Kotha, & Fisher, forthcoming), the more general evolution of craft-based ventures, as well as the role of craft forms of strategic entrepreneurship in the informal/illegal economy.

Re-thinking Academic Entrepreneurship: Micro, Macro, and Meso Perspectives

Re-thinking Academic Entrepreneurship: Micro, Macro, and Meso Perspectives

2020 was the 40th anniversary of the Bayh-Dole and Stevenson-Wydler Acts in the U.S., which induced universities and federal/national labs to become more engaged in the commercialization of science.  These legislative acts also led to the establishment of technology transfer offices at universities and federal/national labs (Link et al., 2011) and a concomitant rise in patenting, licensing, and startup creation by scientists worldwide. The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act has also influenced global policies regarding university technology transfer, as well as inspired legislative reforms in both developed countries (e.g., China, Japan, South Korea, U.K., Europe) and developing countries (e.g., Brazil, Colombia, Chile, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, and South Africa-see Gores and Link, 2021).

Scientists who engage in such activities are now referred to as “academic entrepreneurs” and entrepreneurial programs and initiatives have grown exponentially on campus and in surrounding regions of the university or federal/national lab. At the same time, more attention has recently been paid to students and alumni who set up their own ventures, referred to as student and alumni entrepreneurship, and which belong to the broader umbrella term of “academic entrepreneurship”.

To support legislation, there has been substantial public investment in programs to support academic entrepreneurship (e.g., the Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) in the U.S., various state level technology innovation public investment programs, and diverse national and regional support programs in the E.U., Singapore, Korea, and Taiwan), student-entrepreneurship, and property-based institutions, such as incubators/accelerators and science/technology parks on campus and surrounding regions, as well as state-level programs to attract “star scientists” who actively engage in academic entrepreneurship (e.g., the Georgia Research Alliance  

A key policy issue relating to academic entrepreneurship is ownership of intellectual property arising from government-funded research at universities and federal/national labs, such as patents (the Bayh-Dole approach in the U.S.), and whether universities own such patents (the Bayh-Dole approach) or inventors own them (the “Professor’s Privilege” in Sweden -see Hvide and Jones, 2018 or in Germany - see Cunningham et al., 2019).  Also, policymakers, intergovernmental actors, academics, and practitioners view academic entrepreneurs as key agents in addressing “grand societal challenges,” such as climate change and sustainability, improving physical and human infrastructure, reducing poverty and inequality, and health care (e.g., George et al., 2016; De Silva et al., 2021).

It is also important to note that innovation and entrepreneurship occur within an entrepreneurial ecosystem.  Some key agents, institutions, and initiatives defining entrepreneurial ecosystems on campus (and in surrounding regions of the campus) include faculty, post-docs, students, alumni, technology transfer offices, science and technology parks, incubators/ accelerators, venture capitalists and angel investors, alumni commercialization funds, and numerous entrepreneurship programs and centers on campus.  These systems have expanded greatly over the past forty years.  Thus, the rise of academic entrepreneurship has both important managerial and public policy implications at multiple levels of analysis. 

Business Model Innovation Design: Deploying Strategic Entrepreneurship to Address Grand Challenges

Submission Deadline: April 3, 2023

To address grand challenges, strategic entrepreneurship initiatives such as business model innovation at the base of the pyramid or new social ventures with innovative business model designs may be deployed. Well-designed governmental policies complement and promote such purposeful entrepreneurship and innovation; however, they do not substitute for them. Given the relevance and timeliness of the topic, and the lack of research at the intersection of business model design, innovation, strategic entrepreneurship, governmental policies and grand challenges, we are launching a Special Issue entitled Business Model Innovation Design: Deploying Strategic Entrepreneurship to Address Grand Challenges.

We define new business models as systems of interconnected and potentially boundary-spanning transactions and activities centered on a focal organization and designed to serve markets or solve problems in ways that are either new to the world, new to a market, or simply new to the focal organization. Business model innovations entail holistic changes to how business is conducted, and often impact multiple organizational dimensions and stakeholders. Business model challenges relate to, for example, the transition to a circular economy, and more broadly grand challenges such as those presented by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (UN Environment Management Group, n.d.), including eradicating poverty, reducing inequalities, increasing access to clean water and sanitation, and providing affordable clean energy.

The new Special Issue builds on the significant research on business models that has been performed over the past decade, with the objective of linking our improved conceptual and empirical understanding of the phenomenon with the important notion of grand challenges, the urgency of which has become increasingly apparent.