Senate Hall Academic Publishing


Decide to Digitalize! Barriers, Drivers and the Entrepreneurial Cognition Perspective

This special issue is no longer open for submissions.  The deadline closing date was December 1st, 2021


Guest editors:

Sara Sassetti, University of Pisa, Italy

Andrea Caputo, University of Trento, Italy & University of Lincoln, UK

Massimiliano Pellegrini, Tor Vergata University, Rome, Italy

Ana Millán, University of Sevilla, Spain

José María Millán, University of Huelva, Spain

Important dates

  • Manuscripts due by: 1st December 2021.
  • Notification to authors (1st round): February 2022.
  • Possible acceptance date: Summer 2022.

Background and special issue purpose

The application of digital technologies and ICTs in the context of entrepreneurship and small-and medium sized enterprises has revolutionized organizations and business models around the world (Caputo et al., 2021; Rosin et al., 2020; OECD, 2020). The digital environment provides a competitive landscape in which taking an entrepreneurial strategic posture may be particularly beneficial to SMEs. Indeed, digital technologies create more variability in entrepreneurial activities and allow SMEs to rapidly and easily enhance their capabilities and performance to create value (Nambisan, 2017). Digital technologies enabled the creation of new business ventures and digital start-ups, which incorporate novel technology as a vital component of their business models and operations (Elia et al., 2020). In this sense, digital technologies are enablers of entrepreneurial activity (Von Briel et al., 2018) and the use of digital technologies offers new opportunities to enhance current entrepreneurial goals by optimizing processes as well as managerial and strategic decisions (Ferguson & Henrekson, 2019; Kraus et al., 2019).

Moreover, due to Covid-19 entrepreneurs face numerous challenges and uncertainties. Therefore, they had to develop new ways to do business. In this context, digital technologies and ICTs helped this quick adaptation process. Indeed, the use of digital technology and ICTs in this pandemic time may help entrepreneurs to stay connected and facilitate smart working situations (Papadopoulos et al., 2020).

In the last decades, there was an increasing attention to understand the relationship between digital technologies and entrepreneurship, and a new stream of research was built: digital entrepreneurship (Ladeira et al., 2019; Nambisan, 2017). However, this research stream is still under construction and is limited in scope in explaining the benefits of applying digital technologies in the area of entrepreneurship (Ferreira et al., 2019; Ladeira et al., 2019; Nambisan, 2017).

In this research landscape, there is still a lack of understanding about how and why entrepreneurs decide to apply digital technologies. For example, digital technologies bring in a complexity around the decision-making processes regarding their adoption. Understanding of this complexity is still in the nascent phases (Pappas et al., 2021). As Nambisan (2017), one of the main authors in the field of digital entrepreneurship, explained: in order to enrich and have a better understanding of digital entrepreneurship, there is the need to build on (relate to) several important existing theoretical perspectives and research streams in entrepreneurship such as entrepreneurial cognition (Mitchell et al., 2002; 2007).

Starting from these theoretical premises, the first main aim of this special issue is to understand how entrepreneurs, cognitively, decide to use digital technologies.

Thus, the integration between the findings from entrepreneurial cognition research and from the digital entrepreneurship literature is required in order to answer some possible questions, including (but not limited to):

  • How is intuition related to digital entrepreneurship?
  • How is rationality related to digital entrepreneurship?
  • How are effectuation and causation related to digital entrepreneurship?
  • What kind of cognitive processes are applied in order to reach effective entrepreneurial digital decisions?
  • What is the impact of digital technologies and ICTs on the entrepreneurial decision-making processes?
  • What are the implications of social distancing and remote working for entrepreneurship, start up, new venture creation or SMEs management?
  • What is the impact of Covid-19 on digital entrepreneurship and the adoption of digital technologies and ICTs by SMEs in traditional sectors?

Research urgencies in the theoretical area coexist, however, with others of more empirical nature. Thus, there is still a need for a more in-depth understanding of how digital technologies and ICTs are being used in the context of SMEs and entrepreneurship and, in particular, in response to Covid-19. Precisely shedding light on this topic is the second main aim of this special issue.

In this vein, the impact of the existing heterogeneity within the population of entrepreneurs population (see e.g. Dvouletý, 2018; Cieślik & Dvouletý, 2019) and their digital skills (based on gender, educational level, age group, financial resources, degree of urbanization of the area, cross-national/cross-cultural issues, …) on this digitalization process also deserves research attention (Millán et al., 2021). Furthermore, the role of elements such as trust of the internet (i.e., data security and privacy concerns) or e‑government perception on the use of digital technologies and ICTs among entrepreneurs still remain unaddressed.

Hence, this special issue also addresses the following (illustrative but not restrictive) themes:

  • Digital skills of entrepreneurs and SME owners/managers.
  • Barriers, drivers and degree of adoption of digital technologies and ICTs by SMEs and entrepreneurs.
  • Relationship between digital technologies and ICTs implementation and entrepreneurs’ performance (e.g. survival, earnings, growth, exporting).
  • E‑government perception and use of entrepreneurs and SME owners/managers.
  • Trust of the internet among entrepreneurs and SME owners/managers.
  • Differences in the digitalization process and ICT implementation of entrepreneurs based on attributes such as gender, educational level, age group, financial resources, degree of urbanization of the area, cross-national/cross-cultural issues, etc.
  • The shift caused by Covid-19 in the digitalization process and ICT implementation of entrepreneurs and SME owners/managers.
  • The role of the policy framework and initiatives supporting digitalization and ICT implementation of entrepreneurs (e.g. 2030 Digital Compass: The European way for the Digital Decade, European Commission) in the post-Covid-19 world.

Submission and review process

All papers are expected to fully comply with IRE standards and are subject to regular review procedures. Papers should not have been published previously nor be currently under consideration for publication elsewhere in any other format (print or electronic).

Research papers, conceptual papers, (teaching) case studies and research commentaries are welcome.  Papers which use traditional and emerging sources of data are both welcome.

Please read the Notes for Authors at:

Please submit full papers to the two corresponding Guest Editors using the email addresses below.

For questions regarding the content of this special issue, please also contact the above corresponding Guest Editors.


Caputo, A., Pizzi, S., Pellegrini, M.M., & Dabić, M. (2021), “Digitalization and business models: Where are we going? A science map of the field”, Journal of Business Research, 123, 489–501.

Cieślik, J., & Dvouletý, O. (2019), “Segmentation of the population of the solo self employed”, International Review of Entrepreneurship, 17(3), 281–304.

Dvouletý, O. (2018), “Determinants of self-employment with and without employees: Empirical findings from Europe”, International Review of Entrepreneurship, 16(3), 405–426.

Elia, G., Margherita, A., & Passiante, G. (2020), “Digital entrepreneurship ecosystem: How digital technologies and collective intelligence are reshaping the entrepreneurial process”, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 150, 119791.

European Commission (2021), 2030 Digital Compass: The European Way for the Digital Decade. COM(2021) 118 final. Brussels.

Ferguson, S., & Henrekson, M. (2019), “The long-run performance of born globals in computing: The role of digital platforms”, International Review of Entrepreneurship, 17(3), 257–280.

Ferreira, J.J., Fernandes, C.I., & Ferreira, F.A. (2019), “To be or not to be digital, that is the question: Firm innovation and performance”, Journal of Business Research, 101, 583–590.

Kraus, S., Roig-Tierno, N. & Bouncken, R.B. (2019), “Digital innovation and venturing: An introduction into the digitalization of entrepreneurship”, Review of Managerial Science, 13, 519–528.

Ladeira, M.J., Ferreira, F.A., Ferreira, J.J., Fang, W., Falcão, P.F., & Rosa, Á.A. (2019), “Exploring the determinants of digital entrepreneurship using fuzzy cognitive maps”, International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 15(4), 1077–1101.

Millán, J.M., Lyalkov, S., Burke, A., Millán, A., & Van Stel, A. (2021), “ ‘Digital divide’ among European entrepreneurs: Which types benefit most from ICT implementation?”, Journal of Business Research, 125, 533–547.

Mitchell, R.K., Busenitz, L.W., Bird, B., Marie Gaglio, C., McMullen, J.S., Morse, E.A., & Smith, J.B. (2007), “The central question in entrepreneurial cognition research 2007”, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 31(1), 1–27.

Mitchell, R.K., Busenitz, L., Lant, T., McDougall, P.P., Morse, E.A., & Smith, J.B. (2002), “Toward a theory of entrepreneurial cognition: Rethinking the people side of entrepreneurship research”, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 27(2), 93–104.

Nambisan, S. (2017), “Digital entrepreneurship: Toward a digital technology perspective of entrepreneurship”, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 41(6), 1029–1055.

OECD (2020). OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2020. Paris: OECD Publishing.

Papadopoulos, T., Baltas, K.N., & Balta, M.E. (2020), “The use of digital technologies by small and medium enterprises during COVID-19: Implications for theory and practice”, International Journal of Information Management, 55, 102192.

Pappas, N., Caputo, A., Pellegrini, M.M., Marzi, G. & Micholoupou, E. (2021), “The complexity of decision-making processes and IoT adoption in accommodation SMEs”, Journal of Business Research, 131, 573-583.

Rosin, A.F., Proksch, D., Stubner, S., & Pinkwart, A. (2020), “Digital new ventures: Assessing the benefits of digitalization in entrepreneurship”, Journal of Small Business Strategy, 30(2), 59–71.

Von Briel, F., Davidsson, P., & Recker, J. (2018), “Digital technologies as external enablers of new venture creation in the IT hardware sector”, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 42(1), 47–69.

Acknowledgements: This special issue is supported by the Ministry of Economy and Knowledge of the Andalusian Regional Government (Junta de Andalucía - Consejería de Economía y Conocimiento) through Andalusia ERDF 2014-20 Operational Programme (Programa Operativo FEDER Andalucía 2014-20) under University of Huelva research project UHU-1265299.