Global narratives on opportunity development, new firm creation, the innovative solution continue to be dominated by a form of binary articulation of entrepreneurial possibilities. Consequently something essential is lost in the necessity-opportunity, developed-undeveloped (with grey concessions to emerging!), large and small firms (with occasional acknowledgement of the ‘mid-sized counterpart), axes of much that dominates entrepreneurship research and enquiry.

Internationalisation, globalization and the trajectories of entrepreneurial activity within these constructs, work to an established norm cultivated, post hoc, in the North. The South is seen in terms of emergence of market opportunities or potential institutional correspondence acquired through stages of development with the contours of each stage set in advance by the priorities of technology, economic growth and ostensible social freedom. Hence investigations, the tools of enquiry and publications on the topic of entrepreneurship and innovation consolidate the outcomes of observation generated through these binary lenses.

If we were to extend the meaning and scope of entrepreneurship, along Schumpeterian lines, we might find, however, counter narratives of distributed wealth creation, the mind set for value creation, and alternative institutional building that encompasses discourses on social transformation, new forms of political leadership, and environmental protection, that can be found across nations and regions. We can find prospects in the extraordinary strength in non-violent political transformations of countries in Africa, the new form of entrepreneurial state leadership supporting global trade in China, or the search for a working happiness index in Bhutan.

Bringing the multiple approaches to new opportunity identification can enable the building of many bridges that we need to overcome the tides of disconnects, of inequality, climate change, withering local needs, race and gender disempowerment. And yes we need the soft power of differentiated forms of entrepreneurial learning and entrepreneurial tools from across nations to create more global public goods and private security. To this end the 17th IEF conference will explore the North-South dialectic of entrepreneurship and innovation to:

  1. Explore critically the different roles role entrepreneurship and innovation play in economic and social development in developed, emerging and developing economies;

  2. Search for and identify the various, sustainable connectivities of trade, technology and knowledge exchange, new forms of hard and soft infrastructure (e.g. one belt-one road), diaspora and transnational opportunity creation; ecosystem linkages; and the soft power of cultural barter, to foster new economic and social systems based on entrepreneurship and innovation in the North and South; and

  3. Work towards the development of entrepreneurship as a global social movement, that goes beyond metrics to storytelling, and that celebrates as much the imagination of people as it does their power of scientific enquiry

We, therefore, welcome contributions that cover historical narratives of entrepreneurial North-South links, comparisons between different types of approaches to entrepreneurship development; studies of collaborative experiences, transnational ventures, cultural and social exchanges that have change or augmented our way of living and working, and an opening of many other global windows of opportunity, creativity and new venture formation. In 2018, the IEF returns to Europe. The conference will be held on 12-14 December, in Nancy, France, and we hope that you will join us in creating new North-South bridges of entrepreneurial endeavor and thought

Prof Jay Mitra1 and Prof Mahamadou Biga Diambeidou2
Conference Architects and Co-Chairs
1The Venture Academy, Essex Business School, University of Essex, UK;
2Chair for Early Growth Acceleration & Family Business Labs, ICN Business School ARTEM, Nancy, France.


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