Call for Papers: Re-Viewing Entrepreneurial Universities: Theory Building Opportunities and Strategic Challenges

Small Business Economics Special Issue on: Re-Viewing Entrepreneurial Universities: Theory Building Opportunities and Strategic Challenges
Download full call for papers here

Extended abstract submission deadline: November 15th, 2021

Guest editors:
Alain Fayolle, University of Cagliari (Italy),
Maribel Guerrero, Northumbria University (UK), Universidad del Desarrollo (Chile), & CIRCLE, Lund University (Sweden)
Wadid Lamine, University of Ottawa (Canada),
Sarfraz Mian, State University of New York SUNY at Oswego (US),
Maria Chiara Di Guardo, University of Cagliari (Italy),

Special Issue:
The concept of entrepreneurial universities was born in the early 1980s. In this context, the entrepreneurial university has emerged as a “natural” incubator that provides supports for fostering entrepreneurship and innovation to the university community (e.g., students, alumni, staff, academics) and beyond (Guerrero and Urbano, 2012). The entrepreneurial university plays an important role in socio-economic development through three core activities: (i) developing human capital through teaching that supplies highly qualified graduates to business/industry; (ii) creating new knowledge and innovations through research; and (iii) commercializing research results to society via technology transfer and knowledge-exchange activities (Guerrero et al., 2015).

Over the last four decades, academic debates on why and how higher education institutions could play a key role and be significantly involved in regional economic growth and social change have taken an increasingly important place in the entrepreneurship and management literature (Klofsten et al., 2019). Entrepreneurial universities by attracting cutting-edge researchers, educating students, facilitating knowledge transfer, encouraging new venture creation, notably science-based new venture, diffusing and promoting entrepreneurial culture influence and shape regional entrepreneurial ecosystems (Guerrero et al., 2016; Miller et al., 2018). In this view, entrepreneurial universities have faced multiple strategic challenges concerning entrepreneurial pathways, internal and external factors, entrepreneurial teaching and learning, and impact measures (Klofsten et al., 2019; Etzkowitz et al., 2019; Cunningham and Miller, 2021; Forliano et al., 2021). Likewise, during the current decade, we have also observed the forced transformation of entrepreneurial organizations due to the new technological and health paradigms, especially during challenging times (Guerrero, 2021). In these scenarios, entrepreneurial universities have not been the exception.

(a) Regarding the new technological/digital paradigms, Klofsten et al., 2019 ( p. 151) claim that « to respond to digital challenges and achieve stakeholders’ goals, entrepreneurial university’s leaders should transform their internal factors into digital technologies (e.g., artefacts, platforms, infrastructures) for conducting entrepreneurial and innovative initiatives (Nambisan, 2017; Rippa and Secundo, 2018; Nambisan et al., 2018). This means working or fostering strategic organizational capabilities such as digital human capital, a digital culture, digital support infrastructure, digital teaching, and research practices, as well as a dynamic digital presence ». Nowadays, we know that digital technologies are making a deep impact on societies worldwide, drawing us into a new era of a globalized digital economy based on knowledge and mobility (Nambisan et al., 2017). For entrepreneurial universities, digitalization is, as evoked previously, a source of strategic, financial, and technological challenges, but also of new opportunities to re-view missions, education, research, and entrepreneurship (Liguori and Winkler, 2020; Ratten and Jones, 2020; Shepherd, 2020).

(b) Regarding the new health/societal paradigms, the sudden and unexpected appearance of the long-term COVID-19 pandemic has forced an agile response of entrepreneurial universities to their stakeholders’ needs (e.g., move very quickly from offline education to remote learning or hybrid teaching models) (Guerrero and Urbano, 2021). In this respect, the entrepreneurial dimension of these universities has also played a key role in facilitating the technology transfer among research labs in industry, academia, and the government to control the coronavirus’s spread (Siegel and Guerrero, 2021). The COVID-19 pandemic is questioning and challenging fundamental assumptions in the field of entrepreneurship « that may require a research pivot, that is, that may require a change in research direction on specific topics » (Shepherd, 2020: 1750). For entrepreneurial universities, the emergence of the “normal life” paradigm represents an opportunity to re-view core activities, business models, organizational capabilities, strategic partnerships, and stakeholders’ demands.  In sum, to face these new digital and health paradigms, universities’ leadership should agilely act entrepreneurially to prepare numerous strategies, seek creative solutions, as well as be flexible in the face of continuous changes. Therefore, this new decade characterized by exponential changes opens the door for re-viewing the theoretical foundations and empirical evidence of entrepreneurial universities.

This special issue represents a unique opportunity to build a novel theory that provides an updated theoretical view of the entrepreneurial university phenomenon (e.g., re-conceptualization, re-view missions, re-view business models, re-view metrics), as well as to offer new insights about how the new paradigms have transformed core entrepreneurial university activities (education, research, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship) and business models. In this view, the special issue’s goal is to encourage an in-depth multidisciplinary conversation within the management and related research community (entrepreneurship, technology, sociology, pedagogical, economic, geography, health, and others) from different socio-economic settings to make both theoretical and empirical contributions to the below-proposed topics/themes/questions (not limited):

Core activities re-view 

  • Re-conceptualization of the entrepreneurial university phenomenon 
  • Re-view the core activities (e.g., teaching, research, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship) and their metrics
  • Re-orientation of the teaching activities (e.g., the negative and positive impact of online pedagogies on the entrepreneurial mindsets, intentions, competencies, behaviors, and actions)
  • Re-orientation of research and technology transfer activities/policies Re-definition of entrepreneurial, digital, and innovative initiatives promoted by the entrepreneurial university community (students, academics, researchers, staff) 

Strategic perspectives re-view

  • Re-definition of entrepreneurial orientation, strategic business models, innovative academic models 
  • Re-building of the dynamic capabilities across the entrepreneurial universities’ core activities  
  • Re-definition of the entrepreneurial university ambidexterity patterns (exploration and exploitation)  
  • Re-view what, when, and how universities managers measure the effects of current socio-economic paradigms on entrepreneurial universities activities

Ecosystem integration re-view

  • Re-view challenges and opportunities faced by the university-based entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • Re-view the emergence of new types of support mechanisms for enhancing entrepreneurship in the entrepreneurial university community (students, academics, researchers, staff) based on the stakeholders’ needs (society, government, industry) 
  • Re-view the level of participation of the entrepreneurial university in the local entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem response to the new socio-economic paradigms
  • Re-view the entrepreneurial university scholarly impacts on promoting the implementation of new regulations, actions, or dialogues about the big societal challenges with ecosystems’ agents

Editorial process

Key dates

Launch of the SI call

August 1st, 2021

Extended abstract submission by e-mail to

November 15th, 2021

Full paper submission (only the selected extended abstracts)

March 15th, 2022

Virtual Paper Development Workshop (virtual PDW)

April 15th, 2022

R&R paper submission

June 15th, 2022

Final decision

November 15th, 2022

Tentative first online publication 

January-March, 2023

Extended abstract submission: The extended abstract submission should include no more than five-page (1500 words), and this abstract should be sent by e-mail to indicating in the subject “SI SBEJ: Entrepreneurial Universities”. Then, ONLY the selected abstracts will be invited to continue the editorial process and submit the full manuscripts following the SBEJ submission guidelines.

Virtual PDW: The idea of our virtual PDW is to meet guest editors and potential authors to understand better the SI aim that allows re-thinking and fitting their contributions to the SI academic conversation. In this view, the workshop’s participation is not compulsory for submitting the revised paper, as well as it does not guarantee the publication of the papers in the SI. The virtual PDW will be hosted by Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, on April 15th, 2022, via ZOOM. The full details will be announced to the selected extended abstracts.