Entrepreneurship & Regional Development—The Emerging Subfield of Religious Entrepreneurship

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

Entrepreneurship & Regional Development
The Emerging Subfield of Religious Entrepreneurship

Brett Smith, Saulo Dubard Barbosa, Allan Discua Cruz and Miruna Radu-Lefebvre

There is a resurgent interest in research at the intersection of religion and entrepreneurship. This “theological turn” to entrepreneurship research (Smith, McMullen, & Cardon, 2021) includes an increasing number of publications in top-tier management and entrepreneurship journals (Block et al., 2020; Smith et al., 2019; Henley, 2017; Lindgreen and Hingley 2010), the creation of an academic research conference (www.liferesearchconference.com), and the launch of a special issue in one of the leading entrepreneurship journals.

While interest in the topic is not new - dating back to seminal works of Emile Durkheim ([1912] 1965), William James (1902) and Max Weber ([1930] 2013), there is a difference in the combined quantity and quality of the emerging research. In the past, a number of barriers have limited the development of this research stream, including lack of personal relevance to scholars, the declining importance of religion in parts of the world, skepticism about the validity of research on religion, and the seeming inevitability of secularization, among others (King, 2008). However, scholars are overcoming these obstacles – real or perceived – because of religion’s prevalence, centrality, established base of literature, and ability to provide novel answers to important questions in entrepreneurship (Smith, McMullen, & Cardon, 2021). In short, religion is a very old and still contemporary social phenomenon concerning varying populations worldwide, and which today increasingly attracts the attention of entrepreneurship scholars. As a result, a substantial number of scholarly activities are contributing to the development of the research domain of religious entrepreneurship as an emerging subfield.

The Distinctive Domain of Religious Entrepreneurship

The subfield of religious entrepreneurship occurs at the overlapping intersection of religion and entrepreneurship. Religious entrepreneurship is defined as the processes of “discovery, enactment, evaluation, and exploitation of opportunities to create future goods and services motivated by the cultural and ideological beliefs, practices, and/or outcomes rooted in religious faith” (Smith, Gümüsay, & Townsend, 2023). This definition provides the foundation for two essential research questions:

  1. Why, when, and how the practices based on believed superhuman powers affect opportunities, entrepreneurial action, entrepreneuring, and the consequences of entrepreneurial processes for the pursuer and other stakeholders; and,
  2. Why, when, and how opportunities, entrepreneurial action, entrepreneuring, and the consequences of entrepreneurial processes affect the practices and access to believed superhuman powers in the hopes of realizing good and avoiding bad. 

These questions recognize religious entrepreneurship as bi-directional and recursive. It acknowledges not only the influence of religion on entrepreneurial antecedents, processes, and outcomes, but also the influence of entrepreneurship on religious antecedents, processes and outcomes. It recognizes that religion, as entrepreneurship, is a human experience. It can be both an individual as well as a collective endeavor occurring in entrepreneurial teams, families, communities, and regions.

Submission Instructions

We are open to the submission of both conceptual and empirical papers, with different levels of analysis and methodological approaches. We suggest the following as possible themes:

  • How do different religious beliefs impact entrepreneurial action and practice?
  • How do religious beliefs and practices vary across regions and how the interplay between religion and local culture affects entrepreneurship?
  • How do religious beliefs and practices influence entrepreneurial teams?
  • How do different religions differ or align in their views of economic and entrepreneurial practices?
  • How do different religious interpretations (for instance, a fatalistic vs. agentic religious view of the world) foster or hinder entrepreneurship in distinct social contexts (poverty, aftermath of catastrophic events, warzones, etc.)?
  • How does business failure impact entrepreneurs’ faith?
  • To which extent entrepreneurs integrate their religious values and beliefs within their businesses? Why? What are the consequences of that (positive and negative)?
  • What is the dark (and bright) side of religious entrepreneurship?
  • To which extent are religious organizations entrepreneurial? How do they innovate?
  • To which extent religious networks are used by religious entrepreneurs? Why and with what outcomes?
  • What are the specific cognitive and social processes that connect religion and entrepreneurship?
  • How do different cosmological views (e.g., monotheism vs polytheism) interact with personal characteristics (e.g., gender) in entrepreneurial settings?
  • Are there significant differences between religious vs non-religious entrepreneurs and their firms (in terms of demographics, business characteristics, entrepreneurial processes and outcomes)? 

Important Dates

Extended abstracts to be sent as Microsoft Word file to: editorsi2024@gmail.com (1,000 words, including Principal Topic, Theoretical Background, Methods, and Results, if applicable): 15 January 2024

Confirmation of participation to the PDW: March, 2024

PDW (virtual): April / May 2024

Full paper submission: 1 November 2024

Publication: 2025/2026

For the full call for papers, see: https://tinyurl.com/2ttrvyra


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Lindgreen, Adam, & Martin K. Hingley. 2010. Challenges and opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses arising from ethnically, racially & religiously diverse populations. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development 22 (1). 1–4. doi:10.1080/08985620903220470.

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Smith, B., Gümüsay, A. & Townsend, D. (2023). Bridging worlds: The intersection of religion and entrepreneurship as meaningful heterodoxy. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 20, e00406. doi.org/10.1016/j.jbvi.2023.e00406  

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