Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Social Sustainability: New Solutions and Logics in International Business



Multinationals are facing unprecedented challenges. Recent events related to de-globalization, the Covid-19 pandemic, geopolitical conflicts and wars, and the global supply chain crisis have challenged conventional theory development by forcing scholars to reframe fundamental assumptions across various management disciplines. To meet these challenges, entrepreneurs and multinational enterprises (MNEs) around the world have developed many novel approaches and new solutions that align with Joseph Schumpeter’s (1934) five types of innovations: (i) a new product, (ii) a new method of production, (iii) a new market, (iv) a new source of supply, and (v) a new organization or a new business model.

In international business, possible new solutions include new ways of conducting cross-border R&D (Papanastassiou, Pearce, & Zanfei, 2020); the orchestration of global value chains (GVCs) (Zhou, Yan, & Sun, 2022); a logic of multinationalization (Reuber, Tippmann, & Monaghan, 2021); many disruption innovations (e.g., digital technologies, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and big data) (Nambisan, Wright, & Feldman, 2019); and new business models advanced by global entrepreneurs backed by international venture capitalists (Chen & Sun, 2019). By embracing these different types of innovations, entrepreneurs and multinationals may not only position themselves to better weather global challenges but may also facilitate the formation of new competencies or logics that form the foundation of new competitive advantages that sustain growth.

The macro-level complexities of the global business environment are further complicated at the micro-level as a result of challenges associated with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). DEI initiatives have been predominantly restricted to the realm of human resource management, being guided by the logics of access-and-legitimacy or discrimination-and-fairness (Thomas and Ely, 1996). While DEI is related to the concepts of “distance” (e.g., cultural distance) and foreignness (Stahl, Tung, Kostova, & Zellmer-Bruhn, 2016), it may also act as an enabler of entrepreneurial and innovative solutions by enhancing creativity, adaptability, and problem solving (Stahl et al., 2016), promoting open innovation, and enriching entrepreneurial ecosystem (Sun, Zhang, Cao, Dong, & Cantwell, 2019). Further, given that multinationals must often balance different cultures, ways of thinking, social differences, and institutions (Brammer, Nardella, & Surdu, 2021), this may provide fertile ground for the development of new logics and new tools (Sinkovics, Sinkovics, & Archie-Acheampong, 2021). Yet, we know little about whether DEI inspires new solutions and logics that may offer a new solution to the challenges of globalization.

At the same time, social sustainability, which encompasses the notion of committing to the proactive management of business factors to achieve social equity, environmental protection, and economic viability for individuals, communities, and society at large, has come to the new logics of international business practices, and their interaction with governments (Lundan & Cantwell, 2020). Hence, international business research has begun to conceptualize how multinational enterprises can be more innovative in contributing to social sustainability by re-assessing value chain activities to mitigate negative externalities (such as overuse of natural resources) and investing in host communities to help solve problems relating to underdevelopment (Montiel, Cuervo-Cazurra, Park, Antolín-López, & Husted, 2021; Sinkovics, Sinkovics, & Archie-Acheampong, 2021). Yet, while this area of research is nascent, it is also unclear as to its implications for both multinationals and their stakeholders.

In this special issue, we then call for scholarly articles on the new solutions and logics of entrepreneurship, innovation, and social sustainability in the context of international business. We aspire to integrate and go beyond prior views of globalization in the management and organization literatures. In essence, we welcome novel ideas and concepts that complement and challenge existing theoretical approaches and new practices different from in the conventional wisdom.

Specific Focus of the Special Issue

Given the multidisciplinary nature of new solutions and logics in international business-related research, we invite manuscripts that are from various scholarly domains including, but not limited to, entrepreneurship, innovation, finance, economics, marketing, psychology, sociology, and geography, to name a few. We welcome submissions that draw on a variety of theoretical and disciplinary approaches to the study of entrepreneurship, innovation, and social sustainability, especially those that take a “new solution” approach to theory development, to help us to tackle the new challenges of globalization. Suggested topics and research questions can include, but are not restricted to:

  1. How do born-global entrepreneurs discover and (co)-create new solutions?

  • How do they innovate new technologies and new business models?
  • How might they improve their readiness to create new solutions to benefit from unprecedented challenges?
  • How might their predisposed logics facilitate or hinder the creation of new solutions? Are they able to adapt, alter, or abandon their existing logics?
  • How do they scale up these novel solutions or diffuse new logics?


  1. How do MNEs develop new solutions in de-globalization and the global supply chain crisis?

  • How do MNEs update their entry-related strategic decisions, such as the drivers, mode, timing, location, and partner selection under de-globalization?
  • How do they address corporate social responsibility (CSR) and balance financial performance from multiple stakeholders?
  • How do they build new governance and institutions in responses to climate change and the global supply chain crisis (Linnenluecke, 2022)?
  • What kind of business models and organizational designs help MNEs deliver new solutions?


  1. How do new players in IB develop and enable new solutions and logics?

  • How do international venture capitalists enable innovation and build entrepreneurial ecosystem?
  • How do hedge fund activists (Santos & Sun, 2021) innovate new solutions in social sustainability?
  • How are new technologies (e.g., 5G, AI, quantum computing, datafication, 3D printing, genomics, and digital trust) developed in responding to social sustainability?
  • What kind of facilitating roles do non-profit organizations and social enterprises (e.g., free-trade organzation, Zhu, Sun, & Huang, 2021) play in these new solutions or logics?


  1. How do multi-stakeholders in international business community identify and co-create new solutions in global sustainability?

  • How do multi-stakeholders initiate, promote, and enable new solutions and logics of MNEs?
  • What affect does the global value chain have on innovation in de-globalization and global sustainability?
  • How does the globalization of digitalization technologies affect firm innovation?


  1. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in international business as a new solution and logic.

  • How is DEI an enabler of new solutions or logics in different contexts?
  • Which aspects of DEI can MNEs impact to enhance the creation of new solutions or the formation of new logics?
  • What are the positive and negative ramifications of DEI for MNEs?


  1. Inclusive growth, globalization, and deglobalization.

  • How are microfinance and other social business models as new solutions diffused globally?
  • What are firms’ strategies and logics on inclusive growth and poverty alleviation?
  • How do multinationals initiate and develop social and sustainable business models?
  • How do multinationals work with multi-stakeholders, e.g., international agencies, local governments, and NGOs (e.g., Kiva.org) at the bottom of pyramid?

Submission Process

Papers should be submitted electronically to MBR according to the instructions which can be found by following the links at: https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/tmbr. Authors need to select the Special Issue from the dropdown menu in Manuscript Central in order for submissions to be considered for the SI.

Authors should consult the MBR home webpage and conform to the required format for submission: https://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/journal/mbr#author-guidelines. All papers will be refereed according to the usual practices of the journal and the first review will be completed within 90 days of the receipt of the manuscript. The deadline for submission is The deadline for paper submission to this special issue is December 1, 2022.

Key Deadlines

Opening date for manuscript submissions: 1 September 2022

Closing date for manuscript submissions: 1 December 2022

First round decisions: January 2023

Target publication date: December 2023

Guest Editor Biographies

Dr. Sunny Li Sun, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at University of Massachusetts Lowell. His work has appeared in journals such as Journal of International Business Studies, Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Management Studies, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Organization Science, Research policy and Academy of Management Perspectives (With a decade award). His four papers are listed in “Highly Cited Paper” (in the top 1% of field of Economics & Business) by Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators. He received Global Peer Review Award 2016, 2018, and 2019 for placing in the top 1% of global reviewers in Economics & Business by Publons. Dr. Sun serves as the senior editor of Management and Organization Review and on the editorial boards of multiple journals including Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Product Innovation Management, and Quarterly Journal of Management. He received his PhD from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Dr. John Cantwell, Distinguished Professor of International Business at Rutgers University. He was previously Professor of International Economics at the University of Reading in the UK. His work focuses on international technological knowledge networks. His published research spans the fields of International Business and Management, Economics, Economic History, Economic Geography, Philosophy, and Innovation Studies. He served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of International Business Studies (JIBS) from 2011-16. In 2019 he was named the PWC Strategy & Eminent Scholar by the International Management Division of the Academy of Management. He was elected Dean of the European International Business Academy (EIBA) Fellows from 2015-18, and has been an elected Fellow of the Academy of International Business (AIB) since 2005.

Dr. Vishal K. Gupta, Professor at University of Alabama. He has published around 100 research articles, receiving numerous awards and recognitions for his research. He is the founder of the Virtual Summer Seminar in Entrepreneurship Research, a unique global platform to train the next generation of scholars. His work has been featured in the The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, and Bloomberg, among others. He is the author of five books, including the text Small Business: Creating Value Through Entrepreneurship published by Wiley (2021).

Dr. Crystal Jiang, Professor of Management at Bryant University. Her research focuses on innovation management of emerging market firms and her work has appeared in journals such as the Journal of Management, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of World Business, Journal of International Management, Thunderbird International Business Review. She currently serves as a Chapter Chair of the Academy of International Business U.S. Northeast Chapter, as Associate Editor of the New England Journal of Entrepreneurship, and as a Guest Editor of the Journal of International Management. She earned her Ph.D. in International Business from the Temple University.  

Dr. Frank L. DuBois, Associate Professor of Information Technology and Analytics at the Kogod School of Business, American University. His research involves configuration and coordination issues in the international manufacturing strategies of MNEs, customs facilitation in international trade, human capital management and lean production in project management.  He also produces the yearly Kogod Made in America Auto Index which documents domestic content for all vehicles sold in the US.  His work has appeared in various outlets including the Journal of International Business Studies, International Marketing Review, Journal of Global Information Management, International Journal of Emerging Markets, the International Trade Journal, the Production and Inventory Management Journal, Production Planning and Control numerous book chapters and conference proceedings.


Brammer, S., Nardella, G. & Surdu, I. (2021). "Defining and deterring corporate social irresponsibility: embracing the institutional complexity of international business". Multinational Business Review, 29(3), 301-320.

Chen, V. Z. & Sun, S. L. (2019). "Barbarians at the gate of the middle kingdom: The international mobility of financial contracting and governance", Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 43(4): 802-837.

Linnenluecke, M. K. (2022). "Environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance in the context of multinational business research". Multinational Business Review, 30(1), 1-16.

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Montiel, I., Cuervo-Cazurra, A., Park, J., Antolín-López, R., & Husted, B. W. (2021). "Implementing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals in international business", Journal of International Business Studies, 52(5): 999-1030.

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