Enterprises and Technology in Communities of the North Atlantic Periphery


Purpose and Background

This special issue is focused on deepening the discussion about digital transformation in small and medium sized enterprises, in all their forms, in the communities in the peripheral regions of the North Atlantic Ocean. This large area is partially bounded by Atlantic Canada and the Nordic region (Apostle, Barrett, & Holm, 1998), and contains the Northern United Kingdom. These regions are enduring significant economic challenges from the fall in commodity prices and the collapse of fish stocks, which have recently been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic (Bennett et al., 2020). With the worldwide rise in business activities in the digital space, it has become more important than ever for communities and entrepreneurs in these regions to remain innovative (Walsh & Winsor, 2019). Therefore, digital transformation issues are timely and relevant for community-based entrepreneurship research (Lloyd & Vengrouskie, 2019). 

Current research has shown that many firms in peripheral regions have turned toward the digitalization of their value propositions and business models. These technologies have allowed firms with small local populations to incrementally reach larger and potentially international markets (Dana, 2017). For example, in Northern Norway the use of digitally based new manufacturing technologies coupled with open-source software may allow for new entrepreneurial avenues in more traditional industries (Obydenkova, Anzalone, & Pearce, 2018). The use of digital marketing and distribution channels have allowed entrepreneurs in rural food and drink businesses to access international customers (Bowen & Morris, 2019). Other work has shown how rural entrepreneurs use technology to overcome challenges inherent in remoteness in small communities in eastern Canada (Walsh & Hall, 2020). 

Although digitalization presents many opportunities for entrepreneurs in rural areas in the North Atlantic periphery, there are many aspects of this transformation that require more academic inquiry. One of the ongoing debates lies in the effects of digitalization on bridging the digital divide between rural and urban areas (Salemink, Strijker, & Bosworth, 2017), as there is not much evidence addressing the impact of digitalization on inter-regional (in)equality (Haefner & Sternberg, 2020). On the one hand, digitalization has mobilized rural entrepreneurs, and has allowed them to more effectively compete with their urban counterparts by diminishing or eliminating the once-present geographical limitations (Lloyd & Vengrouskie, 2019; Dana, 2017; Räisänen & Tuovinen, 2020). Digitalization can negate any advantages of locating a start-up in an urban area, thus making this issue of space less relevant (Haefner & Sternberg, 2020; Norris, 2020). This holds true for entrepreneurs accessing new markets and connecting with individuals within urban entrepreneurial ecosystems and communities (Lloyd & Vengrouskie, 2019). Finally, digital technologies can allow groups like indigenous populations to express and properly value their viewpoints and knowledge, reach other audiences, and ensure that their knowledge is not misused or misrepresented by other third parties (Arruda & Krutkowski, 2017).

On the other hand, digitalization may not bridge this gap, as rural regions are often slower to adopt new technologies. This is partially due to a continuing level of resource scarcity relative to urban areas (Clausen, 2020). There is also evidence that digital transformation can adversely affect entrepreneurs, as local customers move to online purchasing (Cummings & Johan, 2010). For instance the use of digital technologies is often facilitated through the establishment of trust through complementary face-to-face interactions (Haefner & Sternberg, 2020). Such interactions remain more difficult for businesses located in peripheral regions. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has also raised new concerns around digital inequality, with some evidence suggesting that a lack of access to, and experience with digital technologies will further increase this divide (Khilnani, Schulz, & Robinson, 2020). 

A more nuanced view of this debate focuses less on “have” and have not” areas, and seeks to understand the varying degrees of digital technology use and usage patterns in rural communities (Salemink et al., 2017). For example, Sankaran and Demangeot (2017) demonstrate the potential for virtual communities to enable community-based entrepreneurship in disadvantaged rural areas by exploring how this initiative can be adopted. Many studies approach digital transformation in terms of inclusion or connectivity. Inclusion approaches focus on people-based issues such as cultural differences, skills, and attitudes towards digitalization, while connectivity approaches focus on placed-based issues of top-down regulatory issues, and its economic impacts (Salemink et al., 2017). Salemink et al. (2017) have argued that integrating these perspectives requires a community-based focus that can bridge both of these approaches, thus appreciating the bottom-up issues of culture and regional attitudes alongside the broader top-down structural issues of these regions. 

This special issue of the Journal of Enterprising Communities aims at further addressing the gap in our understanding of digital transformation technologies and deepening our awareness of the phenomena in the North-Atlantic periphery. Digital transformation is defined in this special issue as using the best technical means to improve products, processes, organizations, relationships, and services. This broad perspective invites researchers to consider the use of technology at both the firm level, industry level, within the public sector, and at the community and regional levels to solve challenges inherent in remoteness.


Subject Coverage

  • Exploring digital transformation in rural regions in the North-Atlantic periphery (e.g. demographic, geographic, gender, or race differences; actual usage and/or adoption patterns).
  • Government technology policy and its impact on digital transformation patterns.
  • The role of entrepreneurs as change agents in furthering a rural community’s openness and adoption of digital technologies and the digitalization trends.
  • How variants of entrepreneurship (e.g. social entrepreneurship) relate to digital transformation.
  • How digital transformation helps rural entrepreneurs overcome barriers of remoteness.
  • Geographical expansion patterns of firms who have successfully implemented digital technologies.
  • Are the entrepreneurial ecosystems themselves different because of technology usage?
  • The effects of digital transformation on socio-economic (in)equality between rural and urban areas.
  • Coopetition and cooperation between management business networks in advancing digital transformation in rural enterprises.
  • How does place impact rural entrepreneurs’ tactics and strategies for implementing digital technologies, and what relevance does space have for rural entrepreneurs in joining virtual communities through digital technologies?
  • How does digital transformation redefine the boundaries of the communities in which rural entrepreneurs take part? 
  • Environmental impacts of digital transformation in rural regions.


Notes for Prospective Authors

Submitted papers should not have been previously published nor be currently under consideration for publication elsewhere. (Conference papers may only be submitted if the paper has been completely re-written and if appropriate written permissions have been obtained from any copyright holders of the original paper).

All papers are refereed through a peer review process.

All papers must be submitted online. To submit a paper, please visit our ScholarOne submissions page:


Important Dates

Submission system opens: February 2022

Submission deadline: 30th May 2022

All papers accepted by: 31st October 2022

Scheduled issue: 17.3, 2023



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Arruda, G. M., & Krutkowski, S. (2017). Arctic governance, indigenous knowledge, science and technology in times of climate change: Self-realization, recognition, representativeness, Journal of Enterprising Communities, 11(4), 514–528.

Bennett, N. J., Finkbeiner, E. M., Ban, N. C., Belhabib, D., Jupiter, S. D., Kittinger, J. N., and Christie, P. (2020). The COVID-19 pandemic, small-scale fisheries and coastal fishing communities, Coastal Management, 48(4), 336-347.

Bowen, R., & Morris, W. (2019). The digital divide: Implications for agribusiness and entrepreneurship. Lessons from Wales, Journal of Rural Studies, 72, 75-84.

Clausen, T. H. (2020). The liability of rurality and new venture viability, Journal of Rural Studies, 73, 114-121.

Dana, L. P. (2017). International entrepreneurship research: how it evolved and directions for the future, International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 30(4).

Haefner, L., & Sternberg, R. (2020). Spatial implications of digitization: State of the field and research agenda, Geography Compass, 14(12).

Khilnani, A., Schulz, J., & Robinson, L. (2020). The COVID-19 pandemic: new concerns and connections between eHealth and digital inequalities, Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, 18(3), 393-403.

Lloyd, R. A., & Vengrouskie, E. F. (2019). Digital circumvention as a means to overcome geographic limitations: Defining the new rural entrepreneurial ecosystem, Journal of Strategic Innovation and Sustainability, 14(4), 499-510.

Norris, L. (2020). The spatial implications of rural business digitalization: case studies from Wales, Regional Studies, Regional Science, 7(1), 499-510.

Obydenkova, S., Anzalone, N. C., & Pearce, J. M. (2018). Prospects of applying 3-D printing to economics of remote communities: Reindeer herder case, Journal of Enterprising Communities, 12(4), 488–509.

Räisänen, J., & Tuovinen, T. (2020). Digital innovations in rural micro-enterprises, Journal of Rural Studies, 73, 56–67.

Salemink, K., Strijker, D., & Bosworth, G. (2017). Rural development in the digital age: A systematic literature review on unequal ICT availability, adoption, and use in rural areas, Journal of Rural Studies, 54, 360–371.

Sankaran, K. and Demangeot, C. (2017), "Conceptualizing virtual communities as enablers of community-based entrepreneurship and resilience",Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, 11(1), 78-94.

Walsh, J.W. and Hall, H. (2020) Entrepreneurs as change agents in remote communities: A multi-case study analysis in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, International Journal of Enterprise and Small Business, forthcoming.

Walsh, J. and Winsor, B. (2019), "Socio-cultural barriers to developing a regional entrepreneurial ecosystem",Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy,13(3), 263-282.