A Tribute to 50 Years of Excellence in Entrepreneurship and Small Business

Article excerpt

Introduction

The April 2006 special issue of the Journal of Small Business Management (JSBM) celebrates the first 50 years of the International Council of Small Business (ICSB). Emanating from the 50th Anniversary World Conference in Washington, D.C., in June 2005, the articles represent some of the best papers developed for that conference, in addition to a few special inclusions. JSBM was first published in 1963, making it the oldest and arguably one of the finest journals in the field of small business and entrepreneurship. Over the years it has represented some of the best entrepreneurship research by some of the world's most renowned scholars, and it continues to be the representative journal for the ICSB. Thus, it was only fitting that a special issue be developed to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of ICSB.

The special issue contains papers initially nominated through the competitive papers process for the World Conference in Washington, D.C. From those nominations, papers were reviewed for their depth and content in relation to the standards of JSBM. The selected papers were then sent into a rigid review process using a distinguished panel of reviewers, all of whom are experienced reviewers for JSBM. This review process produced the articles in that issue and represents the cumulative hard work of authors and reviewers alike.

The Evolution of Research in Entrepreneurship

It was not too long ago that the field of entrepreneurship was considered little more than an applied trade as opposed to an academic area of study. There was no "research" to be accomplished because it was thought that those who could not attend college would simply "practice" the concept of new business start-up. Yet our economy is actually based upon entrepreneurship, and history has proven that with each economic downturn, it is the entrepreneurial drive and persistence that brings us back. Thus, individual scholars began to examine entrepreneurship from a research perspective and, in doing so, initiated an academic field of scholarly pursuit. So, we look back at some of the "believers" among the academic community such as Arnold C. Cooper (Purdue University), Karl A. Vesper (University of Washington), Donald L. Sexton (Ohio State University), Robert C. Ronstadt (Babson College), Robert H. Brockhaus (St. Louis University), Justin G. Longenecker (Baylor University), and Gerald E. Hills (University of Illinois-Chicago), all of whom are examples of the "pioneering" researchers in the embryonic days of entrepreneurship and all of whom published in JSBM. These are just a few examples of the many scholars who helped shape our field today.

Yet their wisdom, scholarship, and persistence guided the field of entrepreneurship from what was once considered a disrespected academic area to a field that has now gained unimaginable respect and admiration among universities in the 21st century. Their willingness to delve into the research issues important to this developing discipline provided motivation for the next generation of scholars to pursue the entrepreneurship field with greater vigor.

Today we celebrate the immense growth in entrepreneurship research as evidenced by the number of academic journals devoted to entrepreneurship (44 journals), the number of endowed professorships and chairs in entrepreneurship (over 275 positions), the development of the 21st Century Entrepreneurship Research Fellows by the National Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers, the increasing number of top scholars devoting much of their valuable research time and efforts to publishing on aspects of entrepreneurship in the top academic journals, including JSBM, and finally, the recognition of certain entrepreneurship journals in many university lists of top journals for faculty to publish in. Many of the top business schools in the United States have accepted the London Times' list of the top 35 academic journals, including the Journal of Business Venturing, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, and Journal of Small Business Management. …