This paper provides a structured literature review of digital entrepreneurship to generate insights into recent developments in the field, critique the research to date, and identify opportunities for future research. We have applied the three aspects of critical research – insight, critique, and transformative redefinition – to analyse and synthesise the literature. We distil the definitions of the key constructs and identify three research development phases corresponding to practice development. Analysis of 133 scholarly articles by discipline, time, methodology, geography and theoretical focus informs that digital entrepreneurship research has been fragmented, divergent and slow to respond to practice. However, the field is now rapidly acquiring legitimacy and an identity, growing rapidly and is becoming more interdisciplinary. We explore how established views of entrepreneurial processes and clusters are being upended in a digital world. In outlining the future of the field, a preponderance of single case study and conceptual articles need to be supplemented with longitudinal, mixed methods, multiple case study and quantitative research. More integrative research, preferably presented as dynamic models, would advance the field. Design and action research output, and collaborations with practitioners will yield practice-driven insights. This paper will facilitate an interdisciplinary dialogue for evidenceinformed policy and practice.
Industries and markets as varied as media, entertainment, advertising, retail, transport, and accommodation have been transformed by business model innovations, such as multi-sided digital marketplaces, social media, e-commerce, and software-as-a-service. This expanding digital economy owes its existence in large part to the entrepreneurial action enabled by digital technologies. In fact, companies that began as digital start-ups – Google, Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba, Dropbox, Uber, AirBNB – are now counted among the world’s corporate giants. Indeed, the digital economy is hailed as one of the most significant economic developments since the industrial revolution, and digital entrepreneurship sits squarely at the origins of this revolution (Kraus et al., 2019; Nambisan, 2019; Zhao and Collier, 2016). Although growing rapidly, academic research in digital entrepreneurship faces some challenges. The field’s dynamic terminology is a source of confusion. As trends emerge and fade, we continue to use different terms interchangeably from an emergent vocabulary (Matlay, 2004). For example, ‘internet entrepreneurship’ at the inception of the field in 2000–۲۰۰۱ led to e- and cyber entrepreneurship around 2004 and now we seem to have settled on to digital entrepreneurship.