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Chasing mythical creatures – A (not-so-sympathetic) critique of entrepreneurship's obsession with unicorn startups
University of Hohenheim, Entrepreneurship Research Group, Stuttgart, Germany.
University of Hohenheim, Entrepreneurship Research Group, Stuttgart, Germany.
Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School, JIBS, Business Administration. Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School, JIBS, Centre for Entrepreneurship and Spatial Economics (CEnSE). Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research (ACE), QUT, Brisbane, Australia.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6363-1382
2023 (English)In: Journal of Business Venturing Insights, ISSN 2352-6734, Vol. 19, article id e00365Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In recent years, the notion of a unicorn, a startup exceeding a premarket valuation of one billion USD, has become one of the most prominent concepts in the practical discourse of entrepreneurship. Consequently, entrepreneurs aim to build unicorns, investors want to participate in their success, policymakers strive to support their emergence, and educators present them as an ideal-type entrepreneurial activity. We challenge this view with a provocative critique of the positive mainstream perception of unicorns. First, we characterize unicorns as an ambiguous analytical category with little value for research and evidence-based policy. Second, we point to the danger of neglecting the multifaceted nature of entrepreneurship by focusing solely on extreme outliers. Third, we highlight the potentially unethical consequences of entrepreneurship's obsession with unicorns. Finally, we conclude that focusing on unicorns contributes to a biased picture of entrepreneurship that favors valuation (i.e., the unicorn) over value creation (i.e., productive entrepreneurship).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2023. Vol. 19, article id e00365
Keywords [en]
Entrepreneurship, Growth, Startup, Unicorn, Valuation, Value creation
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-59258DOI: 10.1016/j.jbvi.2022.e00365Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85143890674Local ID: HOA;intsam;59258OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-59258DiVA, id: diva2:1722766
Available from: 2022-12-30 Created: 2022-12-30 Last updated: 2023-02-20Bibliographically approved

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Davidsson, Per

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