Call for papers: Entrepreneurial Learning: The implications of Social Relationships and the Practice of Entrepreneurship


Special issue call for papers from International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

The submission portal for this special issue will open January, 2020.

Guest Editors:
Allan Macpherson, University of Liverpool
Lisa Anderson, University of Liverpool
Kiran Trehan, University of Birmingham
Dilani Jayawarna, University of Liverpool

Aims and Scope

Entrepreneurial learning has been a significant topic in entrepreneurship studies for 2 decades. In 2005, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice published a special issue, which has been described as a watershed moment in the subject’s development (Harrison and Leitch, 2005). Since that time there have been significant advances in the field, and an increasing number of articles addressing the social aspects of learning, and their implications for entrepreneurial education (for example, Yunxia, Rooney and Nelson, 2016). Since the 2005 special issue, thinking has advanced considerably and focused on several issues such as the social and situated nature of learning (Voudouris, Dimitratos and Salavou, 2010; Karataş-Özkan, 2011), the relationship between individual and organizational learning (Thorpe, Gold, Holt and Clarke, 2006; Zhang, Macpherson and Jones, 2006; Stinchfield and Nelson, 2012), and the implications of vicarious learning on the process (Karataş-Özkan, 2011). During this time, theoretical perspectives have shifted to focus more on the implications of social relationships and of the practice of entrepreneurship. Consequently, this has given rise to an emerging consideration of how practice-based theories can inform and explain our understanding. For example, Jones and Holt (2008) use activity theory to examine the ways in which entrepreneurial ventures change during their early years of operation, and link individual experiences to organizational learning. In addition, this shift also examines the importance of learning to manage, not only the material, but the symbolic aspects of entrepreneurial ventures as entrepreneurs learn how to manage stakeholder relationships (Clarke, 2011).

Dealing with the implications of practice and managing the conflict and tension involved in developing an entrepreneurial venture also provides an opportunity to explore the emotional aspects of learning (Cardon, Wincent, Singh and Drnovsek, 2009; Cardon, Foo, Shepherd and Wiklund, 2012), which are a fruitful avenue for further exploration. Thus, this shift to practice-orientated studies means that researchers are paying attention more to the mundane day-today processes and relationships from which entrepreneurs draw their experiences, and which have a fundamental influence on the trajectory and opportunity for individual, collective and policy learning (Ram and Trehan 2010, Anderson and Thorpe, 2004). Moreover, while there have been several theoretical advances (Politis, 2005; Kempster and Cope, 2010), there still is a lack of solid empirical studies (Wang and Chugh, 2014). This raises several areas in which further studies in entrepreneurial learning have an opportunity to contribute to the conceptualisation of entrepreneurial learning and the dynamics of practice that all too often remains implicit within extant studies.

The purpose of the special issue will be to invite and include papers that identify a clear situated context within which learning occurs and identify how learning may differ as a consequence of this context. While entrepreneurial learning initially focused primarily on the learning process associated with individual experiences, more recent studies have advanced a wider conceptualization that includes social learning (Jack, Drakopoulou Dodd and Anderson, 2008) and organizational learning (Jones and Macpherson, 2006; Jones, Macpherson and Thorpe, 2010). Thus, here we would look to explore the social, situated and contested experiences of entrepreneurs as they navigate a particular situated experience. Contributions could focus on specific temporal phases (Cope, 2010) in entrepreneurial processes that investigate learning in its ‘situated context’ (Karataş-Özkan, 2011). This could include studies that examine learning during specific types of entrepreneurial practices (Corbett, 2005, 2007) such as venture ideation; venture creation; supply chain development; venture expansion; venture failure; succession planning or transition; incubation centres; public offerings; internationalization; mergers and/or business purchase or sale.

Possible Topics

The Guest Editors encourage submissions of theoretical and empirical contributions investigating the dynamics of entrepreneurial practice and the social relationships that inform entrepreneurial learning. Possible topics include:

Informal learning: Given the limited resources they hold, entrepreneurs often face events and situations that are beyond their control, or are limited in opportunities to learn that arise just through the day-to-day events of the business. Event-based learning, such as crisis, projects or stakeholder interactions (supply chain, customers etc), occur daily in their practice, and provide learning opportunities (Shepherd 2003; Shepherd and Kuratko 2009; Herbane, 2010).

Collective and organised learning: Entrepreneurial learning is often stimulated by organised events in which learners form cohorts and follow a prescribed programme of activities (Jones, Sambrook, Pittaway and Henley, 2014). Despite this formal setting, learning in this context is conceptualised as occurring in the entrepreneur’s natural context (their business) using knowledge gained through participation and reflection in the programme and in the company of others (Barnes, Kempster and Smith, 2015).

Political, emotional and cultural context of entrepreneurial learning practices: Entrepreneurship learning has tended to ignore the emotional and political landscape of the learning process, even though personal identity is often tied to the venture. Certain contexts for learning (highlighted above) such as critical failures or managing expansion, have been shown to heighten the emotional and social exposure, as well as, the financial exposure experienced by entrepreneurs. There is scope to broaden our understanding in how emotions might be beneficial or detrimental to navigating the learning process.

Critical perspectives on entrepreneurial learning: Critical perspectives on entrepreneurial learning unveil the social inequalities through the study of power, emotions and social relations in small firms. Critical perspectives can contribute to our understanding of how entrepreneurial learning operates in superdiverse urban settings. ‘Superdiversity’ as outlined by Vertovec (2007) draws attention to the new and complex social formations, characterised by a dynamic integration of variables (race, ethnicity and social class, for example) in cosmopolitan cities. Superdiversity has created a complex range of under-explored challenges to entrepreneurial learning for minority entrepreneurs, who work within and, most importantly, for such communities.

Researching entrepreneurial learning: While distinct theoretical advancements on entrepreneurship research remained relatively subdued, in the last decade or so the literature has witnessed an increasing number of methodological advancements in the area. Despite this, several major methodological weaknesses and omissions within the entrepreneurship learning literature remain. The vast majority of learning literature has been static and cross-sectional. While some recent work has begun to look at the learning process over longer periods of time (e.g. Watson et al., 2018; Ramsey and Crick, 2011), longitudinal studies are under-represented. Second, researchers could pay attention to researcher reflexivity in researching entrepreneurial learning.


Papers should be submitted via the journal’s online submission system available through the journal homepage. When submitting please choose the special issue: “Entrepreneurial Learning” as the article type from the drop down menu. All papers must follow the guidelines outlined by the journal for submission, available at:

For any questions interested authors can contact the corresponding guest editor: Allan Macpherson (

Submission deadline:
30th April 2020


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