1For this fourth issue of 2021, the Revue de l’Entrepreneuriat-Review of Entrepreneurship is publishing four articles whose common point is an interest in entrepreneurs and their behavior in various organizational and sectoral contexts. The diversity of the topics of study—the external takeover of SMEs, the internationalization trajectory, the competitive behavior of the “ordinary” entrepreneur, the moral exemplary of the manager—and the empirical fields selected (artisanal VSE, VSE of services traditional, SME, family business), confirms once again how much the universe of VSE / SME remains a field of investigation for the community of entrepreneurship researchers (Marchesnay, 1991; Torres, 2003, Chabaud and Sammut, 2017), whether for conceptual and theoretical, methodological or praxeological purposes.
2In this new issue, Julien De Freyman, Sonia Boussaguet and Olivier Cullière shed new conceptual light on the legitimacy of the external buyer of SMEs, by adopting a process-based approach. Fabien Eymas and Faouzi Bensebaa study a population of entrepreneurs still too often neglected in the literature, entrepreneurs in the traditional service sector, of whom they uncover six typical competitive behaviors. Sandrine Frémeaux, Miruna Radu-Lefevbre and Luis Dias-Matajira are interested in the moral exemplarity of the leaders of French family businesses. Finally, Catherine Thévenard-Puthod contributes to deepening knowledge of the internal and external factors influencing the internationalization trajectories of craft companies.
3In this quest geared towards a better understanding and enriching knowledge of the sources of entrepreneurial action, these authors investigate the issues of sustainability and development of VSEs and SMEs. They refer to major socio-economic issues for contemporary entrepreneurial practices, in view of the weight of SMEs and craft businesses in the economic fabric of our Western societies: remember that the external takeover of SMEs represents 60% of the volume of transactions (from recovery), that the craft industry is designated as the first sector in France by the Consular Chambers; as for the traditional services sector in urban areas, it contributes to the dynamics of our cities and metropolises. Note that these authors based their research on methodological protocols that are both rigorous and inventive, contextualized, combining several levels of analysis (individual and collective) while engaging in fruitful theoretical dialogues with other management specialties (management strategy, business, human resources …) as well as with other disciplines of the human and social sciences, in particular sociology and psychosociology.
4The editorial committee of the Revue de l’Entrepreneuriat-Review of Entrepreneurship is very keen to promote the publication of research establishing interdisciplinary dialogues, but also with the English-speaking community, as evidenced by the new opus of the ABCédaire critique, proposed by Banu Ozkazan-Pan over the term “Trust”.
5About the four published articles
6By favoring a conceptual contribution, the article by Julien De Freymann, Sonia Boussaguet and Olivier Cullière, entitled “An attempt to conceptualize the legitimacy of the external buyer of an SME” is based on a psychosociological approach to legitimacy (Tost, 2011), to better understand the external “takeover process” of SMEs, according to the formulation of Deschamps (2000). After having proposed the definitional bases of the concept of individual legitimacy, the authors update a process dynamic, made up of a phase of “anticipated legitimation” and a phase of “legitimation in use” during which the external buyer must establish, maintain (or develop), then defend its legitimacy vis-à-vis different audiences (proximity, discretionary and the target company). The skills required by these legitimation strategies point to the buyer’s need for support and to be surrounded and accompanied at the various stages of the process. This article opens up new perspectives on buy-back support.
7The second article “Competitive behavior of entrepreneurs in the traditional service sector” by Fabien Eymas and Faouzi Bensebaa links the work on the factors of behavioral differences of entrepreneurs to the literature on competitive strategies. Noting that the current of competitive dynamics has too often obscured the person of the entrepreneur (Anderson and Tell, 2009), the authors seek to better understand the competitive behavior of “ordinary” entrepreneurs in the traditional urban service sector. from a qualitative methodology based on the analysis of their actual practices (Welter, Baker, Audrestsch, Gartner, 2017). They establish a typology in 6 types, distinguishing the classic entrepreneur, the visionary entrepreneur, the undead entrepreneur, the “low-cost” entrepreneur, the militant entrepreneur and the competent entrepreneur. The interest of this article lies in the choice to study ordinary entrepreneurs, still too neglected in the literature. By highlighting the heterogeneity and variety of competitive strategies undertaken by these entrepreneurs in the traditional service sector, the authors engage in a discussion with the typologies of existing entrepreneurs
8In “Meaningful Work and Moral Exemplarity: the Perspective of Family Business Leaders”, Sandrine Frémeaux, Miruna Radu-Lefevre and Luiz Diaz-Matajira conducted an investigation on the moral exemplarity of their leaders in French family businesses from an original prism. The authors rely on twenty case studies constructed from autobiographical interviews with these business leaders to learn about the link between the moral exemplarity of these leaders and their leadership activity in order to create an environment conducive to the meaning of work (Pawar, 2009). Based on the recent study by Frémeaux and Pavageau (2020), the authors analyze how moral exemplarity intervenes in their behavior as leaders. They highlight a virtuous model of moral exemplarity as a lever for the meaning of work, articulated around the consistency established between the values and ethical behavior of managers and their practices as well as those of their employees. Far from establishing moral exemplarity as a standard of behavior to be emulated, the authors also present it as a strategic resource specific to each leader, a real source of resilience in a crisis situation.
9The article by Catherine Thevenard-Puthod “For a better understanding of the variety of internationalization trajectories of craft businesses” aims to advance knowledge—still recent—on international entrepreneurship (Romanello and Chiarvesio, 2019), by choosing an object of study rarely studied: namely, craft enterprises. The author seeks to better understand why and how these companies begin their engagement in this process of internationalization, by combining research on the early internationalization of Born Global companies with work on the strategic behavior of VSEs and craft companies. Using a qualitative methodology based on seven case studies, it identifies four types of trajectories, with varying speed and precocity and according to engaging entry methods (joint venture, subsidiaries abroad, etc.). Regarding the temporality of these dynamics, the author highlights the particular decisive influence of the entrepreneurial orientation of the leader, the scarcity of know-how as well as the company’s capacity for innovation. This research helps craft businesses realize that internationalization is not only possible for them, but that it can take various paths.
10As evidenced by the approaches and results briefly described in this editorial, in this field of VSEs and SMEs, exciting research perspectives are emerging for the community in entrepreneurship. On behalf of the editorial committee, we would like to thank the authors and reviewers who made this new issue possible and we hope you enjoy reading it.