Small Business Economics—Dubious, Destructive, or Decisive? Spotting, Avoiding, and Rehabilitating t

When:  Mar 1, 2024 from 09:00 to 23:59 (ET)
Associated with  Entrepreneurship (ENT)

Small Business Economics: An Entrepreneurship Journal (SBEJ) 

Dubious, Destructive, or Decisive? Spotting, Avoiding, and Rehabilitating the Dark Sides of Entrepreneurship 

Entrepreneurship straddles positive and negative inputs, outputs, and outcomes. The predominant focus on positive aspects of entrepreneurial pursuit has overlooked mounting evidence of unproductive (Audretsch et al., 2021), unethical, and destructive actions, such as financial crime, customer fraud, investor deception (Desai & Acs, 2016; Scheaf & Wood, 2021; Antony et al., 2017), and other types of misconduct that erodes societal and environmental values (Anand et al., 2023; Haans & Oever, 2021). Since this so called “dark side” (Shepherd, 2019) was first acknowledged several decades ago (de Vries, 1985; Baumol, 1990), significant gaps remain in theorizing and modelling how entrepreneurs choose, switch, or sustain negative ends and means (Hainz, 2018; Luca & Zervas, 2016; Theoharakis et al., 2021). We encourage inquiries that explicitly foreground the causes, contingencies, and remedies of the dark side of entrepreneurship and welcome answers on whether, when, and why entrepreneurial experiences and endeavours may tip and turn from the bright to the dark side or vice-versa.


Submission of extended abstracts: November 10, 2023 
Submission of full papers: March 1, 2024
See Page 5-6 for the complete timeline & submission instructions 


Amitabh Anand, Excelia Business School, France (
April Spivack, Hanken School of Economics, Finland, (
Oana Branzei, Ivey Business School, Western University, Canada (
Christina Theodoraki, TBS Business School, France (
Dieter Bögenhold, Alpen-Adria-University, Austria (
Anders Örtenblad, University of Agder, Norway (


As highly publicized cases of entrepreneurial deception, such as the Fyre Festival and Theranos (Ho, 2021), have stirred broad based concerns about unexpected and understudied downsides of entrepreneurship, scholars have begun to refocus on such negative aspects, the so called “dark side” (Qin et al., 2022; Scheaf & Wood, 2021; Box, 2020; Shepherd, 2019). The variety of detrimental entrepreneurial actions compels renewed attention. A recent survey of 150 early-stage firms also indicated substantial prevalence — three-quarters of organizations deliberately gave incomplete or misleading information to their stakeholders (Yu et al., 2020) to gain financial benefits (Shepherd, 2019). The book "Against Entrepreneurship" (Örtenblad, 2020a) recently compiled works illuminating the breadth and depth of unproductive entrepreneurship (Baumol, 1990; Shepherd, 2019; Bandera et al., 2020; Miller, 2014). This special issue meets the urgent need to explore the negative inputs, outputs, and outcomes of entrepreneurship. 

Progress in researching this dark side of entrepreneurship has been slow due to several challenges. First, there is a great deal of heterogeneity in how dark and destructive facets present themselves (Desai & Acs, 2007; Desai et al., 2013). This is the default for cases of intentional deception where practices need to constantly change just to stay abreast of detection. Second, it is difficult to convincingly capture behaviors and outcomes intended to remain hidden in the first place. And third, it is hard to delineate whether or at which point, certain unintended actions become intentionally destructive. Emergent and divergent perspectives on the dark side of entrepreneurship offer a promising avenue for future research and theorizing (e.g., Lundmark & Westelius, 2019; Olaison, & Sørensen, 2014). Without pushing for premature consensus on such a morally-charged phenomena (Desai, 2016), we can begin to define, operationalize, and differentiate among neighboring concepts (Shepherd et al., 2019), and trace key patterns of wrongdoing (Talmage et al., 2019). While some may readily accept the “fake it until you make it" philosophy common among entrepreneurs (Scheaf & Wood, 2021) as one way to overcome the liability of newness for example, many entrepreneurial behaviors have proven not just dubious but destructive. 

We cannot continue to ignore inconvenient facets of entrepreneurship, especially in the face of evidence of the scope, scale, and spread of its dark side (De Sordi et al., 2022). To better understand the systemic nature and capture the dynamic aspects of the dark side, we propose moving the research agenda forward by (1) developing a contingency perspective of entrepreneurship, such that the underlying theoretical assumptions start with recognition of its potential to yield both positive and negative actions, experiences, and outcomes; and (2) unpacking the causes, contingencies, and remedies that shape which entrepreneurial endeavors, experiences, etc. tip between the bright and the dark sides (Shepherd et al., 2019).


  • October 20, 2023: Extended abstracts for early-stage Paper Development Workshop (PDW) 
  • November 10, 2023: Decision on abstracts for early-stage PDW 
  • November 20, 2023: Early-Stage PDW taking place Hybrid. The guest editors will invite prospective author(s) to join the workshop (Hybrid). 
  • March 1, 2024: Deadline to submit papers for the Special Issue
  • June 30, 2024: Decisions on the first submission 
  • September 30, 2024: Deadline to submit final papers
  • December 30, 2024: Final decisions


The guest editors will manage the editorial and review process of the SBEJ Special Issue submissions. All papers are subject to the standard referee process of Small Business Economics. Further, guest editors will only conditionally accept papers. All conditionally accepted papers will undergo a final review by the Editorial Board, who will then formally accept the papers for publication. 6 Submissions must be original, unpublished works that are not concurrently under review for publication elsewhere. All submissions should conform to the SBEJ manuscript submission guidelines available at

Paper Submission: 

Abstract submission: Authors interested in participating in the Paper Development Workshop (PDW) should submit an extended abstract (500-1000 words, excluding references, figures, and tables), outlining the research questions, hypotheses (if applicable), methods, main findings, and contributions by October 20, 2023 by email to 

Selected abstracts will be invited to join the hybrid PDW. The workshop aims to provide an opportunity to meet the guest editors and potential other contributors to the special issue and present initial ideas and research plans. The workshop will provide an opportunity to gain feedback, refine ideas, and strengthen the theoretical framing of the proposed contributions.

Participation in the PDW does not guarantee publication in the special issue. Also, participation in the PDW is not a requirement to submit a paper to the special issue.

Paper Submission: Please email your paper to no later than March 01, 2024.