Call for Papers: Entrepreneurship and Religion

Small Business Economics Special Issue on: Entrepreneurship and Religion
Download full call for papers here

Submission of extended abstracts / proposals before December 1, 2021.
Submission of full papers before June 1, 2022.

Special Issue Editors:
Frank Janssen, Université catholique de Louvain
Brigitte Hoogendoorn, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Niels Rietveld, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Elco van Burg, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Marcus Dejardin, Université de Namur & Université catholique de Louvain

Religion is “one of the most pervasive and central topics in society” (Smith et al., 2019). Although secularization theory (Henley, 2017) has been predicting that religions would become less important as human development progresses, religions have shown persisting and even growing importance (Neubert, 2019). Currently, more than eight in ten people belong to a religion globally (Pew Research Center, 2018). With the exception of Western Europe, the world has remained very religious, maybe even more so than before. One only needs to look at the rise the evangelical movement in the USA, Africa, Latin America and Asia (Henley, 2017; Drakopoulou-Dodd and Gotsis, 2007), militant forms of Islam (Tracey, 2002), or at religious resurgence in Eastern Europe and Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union (Iannaccone, 1998).

Adam Smith already looked at the economic consequences of religious beliefs and at the motivations of clergy, in the Wealth of Nations (1776). Marx pointed that religion and economics are deeply linked (Raines, 2002). The question of institutions, including religion, and economic processes has been examined by new institutional economics (North, 1990). In Webers’ (1930) work, protestant beliefs and practices produced the “capitalist” spirit driven by a vocation or calling (serving God through work) and the relationship between hard work and salvation. However, despite the importance of religion for many around the globe, religion has been relatively neglected in research on management at large (Chan-Serafin et al., 2013; Sitzmann and Campbell, 2020) and entrepreneurship in particular (Busenitz and Lichtenstein, 2018; Gundolf and Janssen, 2021; Henley, 2017; Smith et al., 2019). According to Gümüsay (2015, p. 199), “Religion is like an elephant in the room: impossible to overlook, yet largely ignored”.

This SI aims to bring together a significant body of scholarly work linking religion and entrepreneurship. Religion can influence engagement in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial decision making in multiple ways. At the macro level, religion can be at the basis of cultural value systems that will impact attitudes towards entrepreneurship (Henley, 2017). Religion may directly impact the behavior of its believers, but also indirectly as part of a country’s institutions, which means that even non-religious people are influenced by the values of the main religion of a country (Dana, 2009, Zelekha et al., 2014). Culture, including religion, is also central in explaining variations in economic activity across regions within a country (Audretsch et al., 2017). Religion can also impact the perceived feasibility of entrepreneurship through its influence on social networks and social capital (Henley, 2017). At the individual level, research has pointed at the influence of perceiving a calling on the choice to become an entrepreneur, and the type of entrepreneurial behavior (including pro-social behavior) (Rietveld & Van Burg, 2014). Some have theorized that religion and related spirituality influence entrepreneurial thinking and imagination (Chiles et al., 2021; Ganzin et al., 2020). Moreover, religion can be an important part of entrepreneurs’ and their ventures’ identity, that influences entrepreneurial endeavors as well as collaboration and market outreach (Smith et al., 2019).

Next to studying how religion can influence entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship can also be considered as a characteristic or even a driving force of religion. Entrepreneurship has been a vehicle for evangelizing and growth of religious organizations, like in mega-churches with intertwined entrepreneurial and religious aspects (Lanz & Oosterbaan, 2016; Lu, 2005; Nwankwo et al., 2012). Many faith-based organizations can be considered hybrids that combine religious goals with economic and entrepreneurial purposes (Cater et al., 2017). Yet, also these processes, which potentially can explain influence and growth of religions, have received little attention.

The relatively small body of literature that has explored the links between religion and entrepreneurship, has so far produced some results that need further investigation (Audretsch et al., 2013; Hoogendoorn et al., 2016; Neubert et al., 2017; Parbooteeah et al., 2015; Smith et al., 2019; Zelekha et al., 2014; Rietveld & Hoogendoorn, 2021). For example, results from Hoogendoorn et al. (2016) suggest that religious individuals are strong in terms of establishing businesses but have a lower tendency to expand these businesses. Potential explanations are still speculative ranging from shortage of social capital to value conflicts. Besides results that need further investigation, the scarce existing literature focuses mainly on Western Christianity and very few studies look at other religions, like Islam or Buddhism (Tracey, 2002, see Ramadani et al. 2017, Essers & Benschop, 2009 and Liu et al. 2019 for exceptions). Therefore, questions that might be examined in submissions to this Special Issue include, but are not limited to:

  • What are the mechanisms that influence the relationship between different religions and entrepreneurship at the macro level, the meso level (e.g., social networks), and the individual level, and are these links context-specific?
  • How do religious differences, such as specific religious traditions, teachings, and practices, influence entrepreneurship in different ways, also for major but less well-researched religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Confucianism?
  • What aspects of religion (e.g., belonging vs. active participation) can explain the relationship between religion and entrepreneurship?
  • How does religion (or values, practices and beliefs associated with religion) influence (e.g., moderate) an individual’s decision-making, (moral) judgments, imagination, actions, and behavior related to entrepreneurship?
  • How can a religion lens help to understand entrepreneurial processes; what are religious aspects of entrepreneurship?
  • Do religious beliefs influence the pursuit of specific types of entrepreneurship (e.g., ambitious entrepreneurship, high-growth entrepreneurship and, social or environmental entrepreneurship)?
  • How do dark sides of religious practices, such as seduction, manipulation, subjugation, or proselytism impact religious-influenced entrepreneurship?
  • How can entrepreneurship theories help to understand religious concepts and processes?

This Special Issue is open to contributions from a variety of disciplines. We welcome rigorous theoretical and empirical research (e.g., using newly collected data or existing data from well-established sources as the World Values Survey, the European Social Survey, or the German Socio-Economic Panel) addressing the link between religion and entrepreneurship, with a special emphasis on the economic and societal relevance of research findings for scholars, practitioners and policy makers.


  • Launch of the call on September 1, 2021.
  • Submission of extended abstracts / proposals (Research question, brief literature review, methods, (expected) results, (expected) contributions – 3 to 6 pages) before December 1, 2021 by e-mail to and
  • Paper Development Workshop in February 2022. Participation in this workshop is upon invitation by the Guest Editors and based on the quality of the submitted extended abstract / proposal. Participation is not a condition for responding to the Call for Papers. Likewise, participation in this event does not guarantee publication in the Special Issue.
  • Submission of full papers by e-mail to and before June 1, 2022.

The guest editors will manage the editorial and review process. All papers will be subject to the standard referee process of Small Business Economics, and will undergo a final review by the Editorial Board after conditional acceptance by the guest editors.

Expected publication date of the Special Issue: Summer 2023.

Contact information

Please feel free to contact one of the Guest Editors if you have any queries about the Special Issue.

Formatting instructions

Regarding the paper layout, style, references format, etc., please follow instructions for authors available here: In particular, pay attention to the following: SBEJ is a double-blind journal. Therefore, submit your full paper as an MS Word file (.docx) in two versions: one anonymized and the other with authors’ names and coordinates. In the references section, include DOIs for each cite where a DOI is available. Make sure that your paper has both an Abstract and a Plain English Summary – instructions for the Plain English summary are available on the instructions for authors page mentioned above. Make sure your paper has both keywords and JEL Classifications. At a minimum, your paper should have L26 as a JEL Classification. Figures can be in the document. Please make sure that the figures are of excellent quality. It is strongly recommended that all figures be black and white/grey-scale only; if a figure is in color, please try printing it out in black and white. If it looks readable, it might pass the test. If it turns into an unrecognizable blob, there might be issues. It is possible to print color figures, but that costs 800€ (at a minimum).


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Busenitz, L. W., & Lichtenstein, B. B. (2019), Faith in research: Forging new ground in entrepreneurship. Academy of Management Perspectives, 33(3), 280-291

Cater, J. J., Collins, L. A., & Beal, B. D. (2017). Ethics, faith, and profit: Exploring the motives of the US fair trade social entrepreneurs. Journal of Business Ethics, 146(1), 185-201.

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