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The term underdog entrepreneur (UE) is increasingly used among scholars to discuss successful disabled, immigrant, and necessity entrepreneurs who encounter significant challenges in their early lives. However, their characteristics and business obstacles in emerging economies remain unclear. This research offers insights by answering two questions: (1) how do physical, socio-cultural, and economic challenges motivate underdog individuals to become entrepreneurs? And (2) what are UEs’ unique challenges following establishing their ventures in Iran? First, this research develops a theoretical model by providing insights from 76 secondary data and 18 in-depth interviews using topic modeling. Subsequently, a survey method is conducted to collect data from underdog entrepreneurs in Iran. Structural Equation Modeling is performed to analyze the data and test the hypotheses. The findings reveal that negative situations create experiences, which lead to innovativeness, risk-tolerance, skilled communications, and persistence, which mediate the entrepreneurship journey. Moreover, UEs confront governmental, managerial, and environmental challenges to maintain their businesses in Iran's emerging economy. In the end, practical suggestions were presented to governors, entrepreneurs, and scholars regarding how they can manage these challenges, paving the way for UEs' success to positively impact economic growth.
Text Mining, Topic Modeling, Structural Equation Modeling, Underdog Entrepreneur, Industrial Entrepreneur, Necessity
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