Call for Papers for a Special Issue on
CORPORATE ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN THE DIGITAL ERA
- Samuele Murtinu, Utrecht University
- Haemin Dennis Park, University of Texas at Dallas
- Christopher Tucci, Imperial College London
- Anu Wadhwa, Imperial College London
Rapid technological progress and ever-increasing technological competition within and across industries continuously challenge established firms to overcome their inertial inclinations. Firms should not only rely on their existing knowledge, resources, and capabilities, but also adapt corporate routines and become entrepreneurial in a broad sense (Dess et al., 2003; Simsek & Heavey, 2011). One of the most important approaches in developing a proactive stance toward new opportunities is to engage in corporate entrepreneurship (CE), a process through which employees, middle managers, top management teams, boards and stakeholders create a new organization or instigate renewal or innovation within an existing organization (Sharma & Chrisman, 1999; Zahra & Covin, 1995; Corbett et al., 2013). The CE process is supported via, for instance, the infusion of resources and new knowledge (Wadhwa et al., 2016; Zahra et al., 2009) or the design of intra-organizational networks (Kelley et al., 2009). In recent years, the number and types of novel CE initiatives pursued by firms to complement and facilitate traditional CE activities have mushroomed, combining permanent set-ups, such as internal or external accelerators and incubators, with one-off activities such as idea competitions, jams, hackathons, start-up camps, and innovation challenges (cf. Tucci et al., 2018).
Regardless of the type of CE program, getting CE right requires not only a suitable organizational design in the form of rewards, top management support, and a failure-tolerant corporate environment (Hornsby et al., 2002; Shepherd et al., 2009), but also a systematic search for promising ventures and emerging technologies (Belderbos et al., 2018). The latter has become critically important in a world increasingly organized into dynamic ecosystems and platforms and driven by the proliferation and convergence of digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) / machine learning, additive manufacturing, blockchain, robotics, social media, cloud computing, and big data analytics. Some of these new technologies make new contexts and opportunities possible while making some of the older practices obsolete, thereby generating extreme uncertainty and potential disruption for established firms. For example, emerging general purpose technologies such as AI have made the ability to source, locate, process, and synthesize dispersed knowledge a key asset for the effective management of organizations (Brynjolfsson & McAfee, 2014; Brynjolfsson, et al., 2018; Furman & Seamans, 2019). The rapid adoption and use of these new technologies mean that the antecedents, processes, and outcomes associated with traditional CE will need to be updated. New technologies are likely to improve the accountability of CE programs, possibly reducing agency costs between parent organizations (principals) and CE managers (agents). New digital technologies may also enable faster and more decentralized CE decision-making processes. As a result, firms may implement digital CE strategies on a global scale, thereby adding business complexity and interdependencies that requires appropriate organizational and technological infrastructures, flexible internal processes, and employees with specific skills, cognitive frames, and mindsets.
Despite their potential, some of the aforementioned new digital technologies may also shift the basis of competition from industry-based competition to customer-centric competition that cuts across industry lines and forces firms to re-evaluate the sustainability of their competitive advantage (McGrath, 2013). Regardless of whether firms perceive new emerging technologies as opportunities or threats, their attempts to become more entrepreneurial and innovative by adopting these technologies must happen in close coupling with other changes to their labor and capital inputs as well as their organizational structure, practices, and policies. For instance, firms may need to cultivate human capital endowed with digital knowledge, skills and capabilities to make sense of and compete in the new digital landscape (Lanzolla, et al., 2021); in this way, humans might be able to fully exploit their cognition and subjective judgment to perform cognitively complex tasks, while new technologies “do the dirty jobs.” Additionally, incumbent attempts at incorporating more “digital” in their offerings will also require thinking through the changes to their entire product and service portfolios (Lanzolla, et al., 2021).
This Special Issue will depart from a key assumption in the traditional CE literature that categorizes technologies as mere additional resources. Instead, the Special Issue will focus on the foundations of modern technology-based CE that needs to categorize technologies not only as enablers of experimentation to aid simultaneous exploration and exploitation, but also as non-human actors that actively influence the decisions and activities of firms. Indeed, advanced technologies such as AI are now capable of making some important decisions that were previously made by humans (Athey et al., 2020), and thus require the (cognitive and emotional) trust of humans in the organization (Glikson & Woolley, 2020).
We encourage submissions that develop theory on modern technology-based CE or empirically investigate this phenomenon to shed light on (1) how emerging technologies influence firms to rethink their approaches to CE in developing new strategies and business models; (2) recent best practices initiated by firms to create value using digitalized assets and digital technologies to achieve corporate renewal via CE; (3) the most appropriate organizational structures and contexts for engaging in digital CE; (4) the role employees play in “bottom-up” strategy making and how digital adoption changes bottom-up CE; and (5) the outcomes associated with digital CE and corporate renewal. We encourage theoretically and phenomenologically motivated manuscripts that use a variety of research methods, including mathematical modeling, simulations, experiments, and qualitative studies, in addition to traditional quantitative approaches, to examine this topic.
- What new CE challenges does the digital era give rise to at the country, industry, firm, and individual level?
- What traditional CE challenges are reduced due to advances in digital technologies at the country, industry, firm, and individual level?
- Will the proliferation of enabling digital technologies change the way in which organizations structure themselves to create opportunities for employees engaged in CE and to nurture their ideas in enabling experimentation?
- How do new organizational and technological environments triggered by ecosystems, platforms, and digitalization affect CE practices?
- How does digitalization facilitate or impede organizational ability to formalize CE activities through corporate routines and job design?
- How do emerging digital technologies change the manner in which firms search for and create new knowledge and breakthrough solutions?
- To what degree can CE activities be digitalized themselves, and if they can, do they act as a complement or substitute for traditional CE activities?
- How do cultural and institutional characteristics interact with different digital technologies to influence CE initiatives?
- When addressing digital opportunities in new products, services, and business models, how do top managers’ characteristics and leadership styles influence CE success?
- Are cognition and subjective judgment complementary to new technologies in digital CE? What is the allocation of decisions between humans and advanced technologies in digital CE programs? What are the associated contingencies and boundary conditions?
- Under what conditions do new technologies reduce (or increase) agency costs between parent organizations and CE managers? What is the role of digital “surveillance” / monitoring in CE agency costs? What is the role of digital CE-driven business complexity in CE agency costs?
- Papers will be reviewed according to the JBV double-blind review process.
- The proposed deadline for submission is August 31st, 2022 with the goal that accepted papers will be published in 2024.
- Manuscripts should be submitted through the JBV online submission process: www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-business-venturing
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