Towards financing the entrepreneurial SMEs: exploring the innovation drivers of successful crowdfunding via a multi-layer decision-making approach

Hannan Amoozad Mahdiraji, Seyed Hossein Razavi Hajiagha, Vahid Jafari-Sadeghi*, Donatella Busso, Alain Devalle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this research, extracting the innovation drivers of successful crowdfunding from the literature review, screening them for the entrepreneurial small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), analysing the cause-and-effect relationship amongst them and presenting a basic causal conceptual model and eventually determining the importance/weight of each relevant driver were the primary purposes of this research. As a result, the authors have also designed a score function to measure the future innovative crowdfunding score for SMEs.

A multi-layer multi-criteria decision-making (MCDM) approach has been designed and employed to achieve research objectives. After extracting the initial list of drivers, Fuzzy Delphi was applied to screen the relevant innovation drivers of successful crowdfunding for entrepreneurial SMEs. Decision-making trial and evaluation laboratory (DEMATEL) was used to analyse the cause-and-effect relationship amongst the drivers and illustrate a basic conceptual model. Analytical network process (ANP) and Stepwise Weight Assessment Ratio Analysis (SWARA) were applied to determine the importance of the drivers and by aggregating them to measure the innovative crowdfunding score.

Initially, 28 innovation drivers of successful crowdfunding were extracted from the literature. Then by employing the first-round Delphi fuzzy method amongst 15 international entrepreneurs in SMEs, the relevant drivers, including eleven items, were screened and selected. Then by implementing the DEMATEL method, the relationship amongst these screened drivers was identified, and seven drivers were determined as causes and the rest as effects. Subsequently, a conceptual model based on the causal analysis of the drivers from the DEMATEL method was designed. Eventually, by aggregating the weight of drivers emanated from SWARA, DEMATEL and DANP, the score function for measuring the situation of an SME was designed.

Practical implications
According to the crowdfunding scores in this research from entrepreneurs of SMEs, influential factors in developing countries were recognised as two times more prominent in developing countries. This might be rooted in the circumstances of developing countries where many startups and SMEs are emerging in vast areas and different fields due to investment in innovation management. In these countries, the authorities and officials support these companies to empower their capabilities and innovative ideas to (1) deal with the severe competitive market and (2) benefit from them as potential economic engines. Therefore, crowdfunding platforms and public initiatives can be considered one of the most effective government supports, which may involve financial risks.

To the best knowledge of the authors, investigating the innovation drivers of successful crowdfunding via quantitative analysis by multi-layer decision-making approaches has not been considered previously. Moreover, the authors have designed a crowdfunding score function to determine the situation of an entrepreneurial SME in this area. A combination of different MCDM methods, including Fuzzy Delphi, SWARA, DEMATEL, ANP and DANP, to investigate the innovation drivers of successful crowdfunding in SMEs has not been considered previously.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Innovation Management
Early online date14 Mar 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited. This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact


  • Crowdfunding
  • Emerging economy
  • Multi-layer decision-making approach
  • SMEs


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