DSEF, in partnership with the U.S. Association of Small Business’s (USASBE’s) Minority and Women Entrepreneurship SIG, is pleased to announce a 2017 Call for Papers. Winners of each of the six categories will receive $1,000 and an opportunity to participate in one of three annual industry conferences (U.S. domestic travel reimbursed). To submit an entry, please email an electronic copy to Nancy Laichas, Chief of Entrepreneurship Initiatives (nlaichas@dsef.org) and Kimberly Harris Bliton, Senior Director of Academic Initiatives at DSEF (khbliton@dsa.org). Submissions must follow the guidelines set forth by USASBE for competitive papers.  They must be typed in 12-point font and no more than 30 pages in length. All submissions must include:
  • An academic abstract (no more than 100 words)
  • An executive summary (no more than 300 words). The executive summary should include a synopsis of the central thesis, methodology, findings, how the author’s work contributes to the advancement of direct selling and entrepreneurship and how the findings can be implemented.
  • Fully developed paper (not developmental)
  • Winning papers must be presented at the USASBE conference in Los Angeles during January 2018.

Key Dates

Submissions Accepted: May 15 to October 15, 2017. Proceedings Due: December 15, 2017.

Recommended Topics

Direct Selling Entrepreneurship among Underserved Populations: Direct selling offers people of all backgrounds an opportunity to launch independent businesses in any product or service sector, with the intention of empowering millions of would-be entrepreneurs who left out of the mainstream economy through factors such as inability to access higher education, prohibitive job training costs, and challenges in adhering to fixed employment schedules due to family or other commitments. Topics may include, but are not limited to the following communities/demographic groups: military spouses/personnel, veterans, minorities (African-American, Hispanic), rural residents, and women. Direct Sellers as Intrapreneurs and Entrepreneurs: Corporations are investing in innovation and record levels and have begun to focus on building core competencies around innovation and intrapreneurship. Direct selling companies are uniquely positioned to receive immediate feedback from their independent salesforces – that serve as both intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs – to generate faster problem-solving, innovation and competitive advantage. Ethics in Entrepreneurship: The direct selling industry has a long history of protecting direct selling entrepreneurs and their customers through self-regulation.  This differs from gig economy companies (Uber). All Direct Selling Association (DSA) member companies are required to adhere to a Code of Ethics as a condition of membership. Companies go beyond the Codes to provide ethics training for their salesforce. Entrepreneurship Comparison – Direct Selling, Etsy, Start-ups: Direct selling companies create the products and brands, conduct R&D, implement compensation plans, manage IT systems, track inventory, provide customer service through call centers, maintain quality controls, ship, and provide a royalty-free platform for marketing sellers’ independent businesses.  All of these empower would-be entrepreneurs to build a business and learn valuable business skills for the cost of a start-up kit (average cost: $100). Direct Selling Company Case Studies:  The stories of and decisions facing direct selling companies can provide excellent material for case studies.  The founders have identified opportunities in compelling ways, made strategic decisions, and faced numerous challenges.   Social Entrepreneurship:  Many direct selling companies make social entrepreneurship a foundational component of their business model. Independent contractors are drawn not just to the entrepreneurial opportunity and products, but to companies’ philanthropic efforts, which are often tied to product sales.

About DSEF

The purpose of the Direct Selling Education Foundation is to engage, equip and empower educators to provide students with an accurate understanding of the direct selling industry as a powerful go-to-market strategy, distribution model and entrepreneurial option, and to teach the correct principles of direct selling, with an emphasis on ethical business practices. DSEF partners with members of the academic community to support research and education programs that expand knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles of direct selling. The Foundation works with professors in a variety of disciplines—including entrepreneurship, marketing, ethics, business and economics—to deliver multi-faceted programming aimed directly at the contemporary issues facing direct selling companies and consumers in a global marketplace. DSEF also sponsors campus programs to help students and faculty better understand direct selling as an industry, a channel of distribution and a pathway to entrepreneurship, and to introduce them to career opportunities at direct selling company corporate headquarters. We also sponsor and support various events, projects and initiatives, like campus events, to further support our overall mission: DSEF engages and educates the public about how direct selling empowers individuals, supports communities and strengthens economies worldwide.

About Direct Selling

Direct selling is a retail channel used by top global brands and smaller, entrepreneurial companies to market products and services to consumers. Companies market all types of goods and services, including jewelry, cookware, nutritionals, cosmetics, housewares, energy and insurance, and much more. The direct selling channel differs from broader retail in an important way. It isn’t only about getting great products and services into consumers’ hands. It’s also an avenue where entrepreneurial-minded Americans can work independently to build a business with low start-up and overhead costs. Direct selling consultants work on their own, but affiliate with a company that uses the channel, retaining the freedom to run a business on their own terms. Consultants forge strong personal relationships with prospective customers, primarily through face-to-face discussions and demonstrations. In this age of social networking, direct selling is a go-to market strategy that, for many companies and product lines, may be more effective than traditional advertising or securing premium shelf space.