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Maria Giulia Pezzi and Félix Modrego (Gran Sasso Science Institute, L’Aquila, Italy) 

We invite the submission of research papers dealing with Uncovering the role of culture for local entrepreneurship for a special session at the 2019 Uddevalla Symposium. The importance of culture for entrepreneurship has been an active area of research in social sciences during the last three decades. The bulk of evidence point at cultural differences as a main driver of differences in entrepreneurial activity (Tan, 2002; Shane, 1994) and innovation outcomes (Shane, 1993; Shane et al., 1995) across national economies. But influential research has also highlighted the important role of local cultural differences for entrepreneurship and innovation dynamics at the regional level (Saxenian, 1994; Peredo, McLean, 2006; Pfeilstetter 2013). That is why, culture has come to the forefront as one of the key framework conditions of the entrepreneurial (Isenberg, 2011) and innovation (Mitra 2012) ecosystems. 

There is, however, a large scope for exploration of the still not fully-understood linkages between culture and entrepreneurship, particularly at the local and regional levels. Stewart (1991), for instance, argues that more attention to social and cultural factors is needed in order to arrive at a more comprehensive theory about entrepreneurship. George and Azhara (2002) claim that regional sub-cultures influence entrepreneurs’ decisions about which type of business to be created, and how they are managed and financed, and that a deeper understanding of such differences can help understanding local firms’ performance and survival. For example, in the Italian case, strongly embedded cultural traits, as in family enterprises and community-based enterprises, have been identified as key conditioning factors of enterprises trajectories and the creation of spinoff-family businesses (Ghezzi, 2005, 2015).  

Currently, the literature on entrepreneurship stemming from management sciences and economics has circumscribed culture to a set of societal norms encouraging risk-taking, experimentation and innovation, providing social status to the entrepreneur and rewarding individual’s wealth creation, hunger and drive. Thus, the conventional wisdom has largely constrained culture to a set of socially-established structures that influence the behavior and courses of action of individuals and social groups with regard to business creation. This special session welcomes multidisciplinary contributions that stimulate a reflection leading to a deeper understanding of the linkages between culture and regional entrepreneurship, particularly those based on broader conceptualization of culture as an enduring set of shared values and beliefs, distinguishing members of a social group, providing collective meaning, molding worldviews and thus shaping the whole social, institutional and economic setting in which entrepreneurship takes place. Such a broader perspective could help explaining the endogenous process of identification and exploitation of economic opportunities, particularly in situations where such opportunities stem from the valorization of the local tangible and intangible asset base and in the case of communities facing an adverse geography. 

The session encourages, particularly, the submission of papers addressing innovative aspects and methodological advancements to the study of the relationships between culture and entrepreneurship. This includes (but does not limit to): 

  • Studies broadening the conceptualizations of culture on entrepreneurship studies, including definitions and measurement issues. 
  • Theoretical advancements and novel perspectives on the relationships between culture and entrepreneurship. 
  • Case studies analyzing the implications of specific cultural (and/or subcultural) traits for local firms’ creation, survival and growth. 
  • Studies exploring the interactions between culture and institutions which may influence the performance of regional entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems.
  • Dynamic analysis of the evolution of the relationships between culture and entrepreneurship, particularly in the face of changing macro-contextual conditions. 
    Novel methodological approaches and tools to the study of the relationships between culture and entrepreneurship. 

We look forward to your submissions and to seeing you in L’Aquila. 

Updated by Rebecca Olsson