Dark matters: The institutional entrepreneurship of illicit and illegal cyberspace

Stephen Dobson, Arun Sukumar, Lucian Tipi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose — There is little doubt that the explosive growth of the cyberspace has provided a wealth of opportunities for a broad range of legal and illegal enterprises. One of the characteristics of the cyberspace is that it removes many barriers (e.g. geographical, accessing potential customers, cost of entry) from the path of savvy entrepreneurs. As such, a new particular brand of entrepreneurs has been born — these are entrepreneurs working at the limits of legality or plainly outside any legal frameworks. The purpose of this work is to explore the area of illegal cyber-entrepreneurship and to illustrate some of the factors that have contributed to its explosive growth over the last two decades. Approach — The work is utilising case studies drawn from literature and news sources to illustrate the theoretical concepts that are being explored. The literature consulted in this work supports the discussion around the areas of entrepreneurship, cyberspace and various aspects related to illegal exploitation of the cyberspace. Findings — The positioning of illegal enterprises within existing theoretical frameworks is explored and a modelling of the characteristics of such enterprises is being proposed. The duality of the opportunities available within the cyberspace is illustrated, with an emphasis on the fact that there will always be a ‘gap’ between the opportunities offered by the cyberspace and the possible illegal nature of some of the entrepreneurial activities that are taking place in this space. Originality/value — This work explores and positions the illegal entrepreneurial activities taking place in the cyberspace. This contributes to the advancement of knowledge in this area. Given the fast moving nature of this area, there are opportunities for updating this work on a regular basis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-201
Number of pages23
JournalContemporary Issues in Entrepreneurship Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cyberspace
  • Dark web
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Illegal entrepreneurship
  • Internet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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