Entrepreneurship and Piracy | Special Issue of the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business
Steffen Roth, ESC Rennes School of Business, France
On the one hand, things could not be clearer. Piracy is a problem rather than a key for economic development and growth. Be it in South East Asia (Vagg, 1995), the Western Indian Ocean (Dua, 2013) or on the Internet (Peitz and Waelbroeck, 2006), piracy represents a – maybe partially excusable – deviation from the standard case of productivity enhancing entrepreneurial activities (Eckhardt and Shane, 2003). Even if piracy can sometimes be considered an act of emancipation, it remains a form of informal economic activities that calls for a re-embedding into the formal economy (Webb et al., 2009) or simply has to be prevented (Sinha and Mandel, 2008). Walking the lines of yesterday’s grassroots and today’s grasshopper capitalism, the freebooter is a token for a politico-economic tertium datur and dreaded and condemned by both the conservative and the progressive establishment: product piracy represents an attack on both the wealth of a nation and its social or ecological standards. IPR piracy undermines both the business models of developed economies and the indigenous rights of its creative classes. Robbery on the international seaways clearly calls for military interventions because the pirates violate the intimate rights not only of the merchants on the high seas, but also of the human nature in their failed states’ home environments. The worst case of piracy is probably bio-piracy (Odek, 1994), i.e. the act of robbing Gaia’s own genetic resources. A pirate is virtually an economic terrorist.
On the other hand, the concept of piracy has obviously struck a chord for quite some time already. Neither paragon nor pariah (Smith, 1980), the pirate emerged as a role model attractive to larger parts of the creative classes, which are actually said to suffer most from piracy. Even more so, as a label, piracy is the least common denominator of both the business models and the political lobby of the growing number of digital nomads and natives, while acclaimed information piracy springs wikileaks and streams the stuff digital heroes are made of. Anti-piracy is therefore increasingly considered an old-school form of pro-capitalist propaganda (Yar, 2008) and power politics directed against the core values, creative potential and (social) entrepreneurial activities of the recent fibre-roots movements. Besides, recent research has found that product piracy can have positive effects even for the victims, which is true for cases whenever the copy of a product multiplies the publicity and the value of the original (De Castro et al., 2008).
Within the tension zone of these two contradicting perspectives, the question of whether particular individuals or groups are pirates or entrepreneurs (Atsushi, 2010) is as hard to answer today as it has always been throughout the entire history of the concept. Piracy therefore calls into reconsideration the question for legitimate business models (Choi and Perez, 2007) as well as the question for frameworks that are sufficiently consistent in defining the legitimacy of entrepreneurial activities. Looking at the history of piracy, we find this question located at the very heart of the wealth of the then-emerging nations, as the answer to the question of whether a privateer was considered a legitimate politico-economic entrepreneur or warranted the death penalty depended very much on whose of the competing nation’s Letter of Marque the freebooter held.
The present call is therefore for contributions that focus on the line between entrepreneurship and piracy from a non-patriotic perspective. Successful submissions will not implicitly consider entrepreneurs as functional and pirates as dysfunctional chessmen in a game of international innovation competition. Rather, they will challenge the distinction of entrepreneur and pirate itself, or look at piracy and entrepreneurship through pirates’ eyes.
In doing so, conceptual or empirical submissions of 3000-6000 words could focus on contemporary or historical examples of pirate entrepreneurship. Who has labelled which forms of entrepreneurial activities as piracy? How has piracy contributed to regional economic development? Which particular forms of political environments have an elective affinity for piracy? How do pirates share the booty? Which forms of (self-) organisation have been realised by pirate organisations? What are, or could be, past, present or future pirate business models? Who are or have been major antagonists and allies of pirate entrepreneurs? How is piracy related to congenial concepts, such as hacking or hacktivism? How about piracy and creative destruction? Is there a measurable link between piracy and creativity? Is piracy a feature, tool, or virtue of emerging economies? What maps do pirates have of the blue ocean?
Suitable topics include but are not limited to:
- The history, lessons learned, and history repeated of piracy
- Piracy, organisation and self-organisation
- Piracy, moral and pirate codes
- Piracy and emerging markets
- Buccaneer and entrepreneurial lifestyles
- Safe harbours, buried treasure and blue oceans
- Booties, bounties and business models
- Spaces and places, roots and routes of contemporary piracy
- The risks, pains and pleasures of piracy
- Lessons learned from the early days of piracy
- Role models and examples of modern pirate heroes
- Piracy: exit strategies and retirement modes
- Piracy as attribute, label and brand
- Social footprints of piracy
- Entrepreneurial and economic policies of pirate parties
- Priveteerism and regional development
- Letters of marque: where to get them, and at what costs?
- Vessels, weapons, strategies and targets of contemporary piracy
- Full paper submission: January 20, 2014
- Feedback: March 20, 2014
- Revisions due: April 20, 2014
Link to full Call for Papers