Startup Competitions Decoded: Unpacking the Phenomenon's Dimensions


  • Malek Elmi University of Cagliari
  • Giovanna Bertella School of Business and Economics, UiT-The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø,
  • Manuel Castriotta Department of Economics and Business, University of Cagliari



Startup competitions, new venture formation and growth, business support strategies and practice, typological theorizing, multidimensional perspective


Drawing on a typological theorizing style (Cornelissen, 2017), this paper investigates and deconstructs the fuzzy nature of startup competitions (Cornelissen, Höllerer and Seidl, 2021). Despite the pivotal role that startup competitions play in promoting innovation and shaping policies related to business creation and welfare there exists a scarcity of comprehensive research that thoroughly investigates the organizational architecture and overall effects of these contests on entrepreneurial ecosystems’ actors. Furthermore, the presence of conceptual fragmentation necessitates a process of synthesis to prevent the dispersion of scientific efforts and to enhance understanding of the essence and constituents of the phenomenon (Ferreira, Fernandes and Ratten, 2016; Howard and Crayne, 2019; Law, Wong and Mobley, 1998). The methodology utilized in this study is a validated approach that combines a systematic literature review with subsequent inductive analysis of the selected articles (Thomas and Tee, 2022). This article makes two distinct contributions to the existing body of literature. First, this study contributes to the startup competitions and entrepreneurship literature by providing a typological theoretical framework that examines the conceptual dimensions of this phenomenon. Additionally, this research seeks to identify the key actors involved in these competitions and emphasize the potential of utilizing such events as intervention tools at micro and macro-organizational levels. Furthermore, this study makes a valuable contribution to the existing body of literature that examines the intersection of entrepreneurship and organizational studies. This study presents a theoretical framework that focuses on the unique characteristics of organizational actors involved. It illustrates the potential design of multiple SUCs architectures based on the objectives and deliberate impacts that these actors aim to achieve. From the perspective of managerial implications, this work provides fuel for thought and a practical instrument for all organizations that intend to conduct a startup competition on purpose. This paper functions as an in-depth guide for all relevant stakeholders, including organizers, participants, accelerators, incubators, and other involved actors. This phenomenon illustrates how each actor is prompted to take action upon acquiring a specific scope.