Journal of Business Reserch -- Call for Papers: The Effects of Childhood Experiences in Adulthood

Zhiming Cheng's picture
Call for Papers
June 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Business History / Studies, Economic History / Studies, Psychology, Social Sciences, Sociology

The Effects of Childhood Experiences in AdulthoodImplications for Business Activity and Research

Special Issue Guest Editors

Zhiming Cheng, The University of New South Wales

Youqing Fan, Western Sydney University

Zhou Jiang, Flinders University

Russell Smyth, Monash University

Massimiliano Tani, The University of New South Wales

Ben Zhe Wang, Macquarie University

The Journal of Business Research will publish a special issue containing selected papers on examining the effects of childhood experiences on adult behaviour and outcomes in relation to business decisions, processes and activities.

Many children have experienced famine, malnutrition, violence, poverty, neglect, abuse, homelessness, discrimination, bullying, health issues and other forms of adversities. For example, over half of the world’s nearly 26 million refugees are children, among whom many spend their entire childhoods away from homes or families (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2019). In Australia, for instance, more than 170,000 children (one in 33 children) received child protection services and nearly 45,000 children were in out-of-home care due to abuse or neglect (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2020). Many developing countries have experienced large waves of internal migration with resultant ‘left-behind’ children. In rural China, approximately 12 million children under age 2 were left behind by parents who migrated to cities for work, resulting in those left-behind children having poorer cognitive development (Yue et al., 2020). In urban China, children of rural-urban migrant workers often experience discrimination within the urban public-school system, which prioritises resources for local students (Wang, Cheng, & Smyth, 2018). How do these childhood experiences play out later in life? What are the channels through which this occurs? Do they contribute to economic choices, work practice, and performance? Do they confirm or challenge economic and management theories about decision-making, the organisation of work, the formation of successful business?

There is a growing body of literature on the relationship between childhood circumstances and adult economic and career behaviour and outcomes. For instance, a relatively early study suggests that most successful CEOs have a ‘normal and happy’ childhood (Cox & Cooper, 1989). Another study finds that having a difficult childhood is positively correlated with entrepreneurial intentions by increasing one’s self-reliance, which, in turn, increases one’s ability to cope with the risks and uncertainties of self-employment (Drennan, Kennedy, & Renfrow, 2005). These contrasting and conflicting empirical results reflect theoretical ambiguity in the predictions of human capital theory regarding the relationship between (early) life experience and entrepreneurial behaviour and outcomes (Simoes, Crespo, & Moreira, 2015).

Many gaps remain in our understanding of the effect of childhood experiences on economic behaviour later in life. A recent review of the broader literature on the long-term effects of childhood experiences on individual outcomes suggests that ‘relatively mild shocks in early life can have substantial negative effects, but that the effects are often heterogeneous reflecting differences in child endowments, budget constraints, and production technologies. Moreover, shocks, investments, and interventions can interact in complex ways that we are only beginning to be understood’ (Almond, Currie, & Duque, 2018, p. 1360). The theoretical underpinnings of these complex relationships and implications for management and business practices and research are not well studied. Methodologically, there is relatively limited research at the interface of management, psychology, health and economic sciences that, for example, employs panel data econometrics and (quasi-) experimental designs to examine the causal relationship of childhood experiences on economic behaviours and outcomes later in life. Yet, having causal estimates is incredibly important when developing appropriate policies and managerial responses.

With this special issue we seek to expand our understanding of the effects of childhood experiences on economic behaviour and outcomes in adulthood as well as their implications for management and business theories and practices. Submissions should address the broad area of childhood experiences and adult behaviour and outcomes pertaining to business activities through adopting a methodological approach that emphasises causal relationship. Submissions that are interdisciplinary in that they draw on behavioural insights from management, psychology, economics and other disciplines are particularly welcome.

We are particularly interested in empirical papers that:

  1. Use experimental methods and/or statistical/econometric approaches to examine the causal relations between childhood experiences and business behaviour and outcomes in adulthood
  2. Examine the mechanisms/channels through which these causal relations take effect, the implications for the workforce/workplace, career development, organisational or societal outcomes
  3. Examine the ways through which businesses can utilise the availability of managerial talents, human capital and ‘good behaviour’ that stemmed from childhood experiences
  4. Develop new theories to understand the relationship between childhood experiences and adult outcomes in the context of actual business setting
  5. Examine issues with strong child and young people policy relevance
  6. Examine the roles of business organisations in the socioeconomic integration of marginalised groups with adverse childhood experiences

However, submissions are by no means limited to these topics.

Submission Information

Guide for Authors can be found in

Papers for the special issue should be submitted through the Journal of Business Research submission system ( In the submission system, please choose article type ‘Childhood Experience’. Submissions will be subject to the normal peer review process.

Submissions for the special issue begin on June 1, 2020, with the final deadline for submission being November 30, 2020.

Questions pertaining to the special issue should be directed to the special issue managing guest editor, Dr Youqing Fan (email:


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2020). Child Protection Australia 2018–19. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Almond, D., Currie, J., & Duque, J. (2018). Childhood circumstances and adult outcomes: Act II, Journal of Economic Literature56(4), 1360-1446. doi:10.1257/jel.20171164

Cox, C. J., & Copper, C.L. (1989). The making of the British CEO: Childhood, work experience, personality, and management style. Academy of Management Perspectives3(3), 241-245. doi:10.5465/ame.1989.4274744

Drennan, J., Kennedy, J., & Renfrow, P. (2005). Impact of childhood experiences on the development of entrepreneurial intentions. The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation6(4), 231-238. doi:10.5367/000000005775179801

Simoes, N., Crespo, N., & Moreira, S. B. (2016). Individual determinants of self‐employment entry: What do we really know?. Journal of Economic Surveys30(4), 783-806. doi:10.1111/joes.12111

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2019). Global trends: Forced displacement in 2018. Retrieved from

Wang, H., Cheng, Z., & Smyth, R. (2018). Do migrant students affect local students’ academic achievements in urban China?. Economics of Education Review63, 64-77. doi:10.1016/j.econedurev.2018.01.007

Yue, A., Bai, Y., Shi, Y., Luo, R., Rozelle, S., Medina, A., & Sylvia, S. (2020). Parental migration and early childhood development in rural China. Demography. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s13524-019-00849-4

Contact Info: 

Zhiming Cheng, Scientia Associate Professor, Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney, Australia