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Giacon, Paolo (2010) INSIDE THE NEXUS: EXPLORING PERSONAL MOTIVATIONS AND ENTREPRENEURIAL OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN HIGH-TECH EMERGING VENTURES. [Tesi di dottorato]

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Abstract (inglese)

This doctoral thesis aims to contribute to open a black box called “nexus”. Shane and Venkataraman (2000) assert that entrepreneurship consists of “the nexus of two phenomena: the presence of lucrative opportunities and the presence of enterprising individuals”. Since their work, few authors tried to describe the “nexus” because its complexity and because it can be considered the real ‘ignition spark’ of every ntrepreneurial experience. In this thesis, we will try to explore this nexus, focusing on two main components. The joint investigation of individuals and opportunities is a critical
research path in order to better clarify the mechanisms and the essence of entrepreneurial behaviours and actions avidsson 2008). Therefore from one hand we explore the relevant entrepreneurial motivations that drive the ntrepreneurial choices within high-tech emerging ventures. On the other hand we investigate the nature of entrepreneurial opportunities, by asking if high-tech entrepreneurs recognize or create the technological opportunities that they exploit. In this work a motivation is defined as the activator of a goal oriented behaviour. From a
selective review of the literature we note insufficient consideration of the role of the human motivations in the entrepreneurial process within the recent entrepreneurship research. Environmental factors being held constant, human motivation plays a critical role in the entrepreneurial process (Shaneet al. 2003). Classical motivational theories like those by Ajzen, Herzberger and Vroom, can be partially exploited as interpretative frameworks for the entrepreneurial process. According to Shane, Collins and Locke (2003) and to Davidsson (2008), the specificity of entrepreneurial phenomena requires dedicated investigation.
The first research question is thus the following. What are the relevant entrepreneurial motivations that drive the entrepreneurial choice within high-tech emerging ventures? How and why motivations change in the phases of life of the firm? We investigate the main motivational driver of
high-tech entrepreneurs and eventually we want to identify the mechanism that lead the eventual change of repreneurial motivations.Recent Entrepreneurship research dedicated great attention to the construct called “entrepreneurial opportunity”. (Shane and Venkataraman 2000, ,Sarasvathy et al. 2003, Alvarez and Barney, 2006, Plummer et al. 2007, Davidsson 2008, Harms et al. 2009) Entrepreneurial pportunities are defined as those situations in which new goods, services, raw materials, and organization methods
can be introduced in the market and sold at greater than their cost of production (Casson 1982). As far as their epistemological and the ontological features are concerned, two opposite views are available. Opportunities are like mushrooms in the forest (Davidsson 2008) Because of individual differences and information asymmetries all actors do not have access to exactly the same opportunities. This is the core of the “Discovery school”: although recognition of opportunities is a subjective process, the opportunities themselves are objective phenomena that are not known to all parties at all time (Venkataraman 1997, Shane and Venkataraman 2000 AMR, Shane and Eckhardt 2003) The second view is called Creative School: opportunities are created in the entrepreneur’s mind and it is not meaningful to talk about these opportunities separated from their creators. Venture ideas are internally generated based on more or less explicit and correct perceptions of external conditions. (Baker and Nelson 2005,) opportunities do not exist objectively , but are subjectively enacted (Gartner et al. 2001,Sarasvathy 001,2008). Is any reconciliation between the two schools possible? The second question is, thus, the following. Do entrepreneurs recognize or create technological pportunities?. How the two processes – recognition and creation – come off? We are not going to propose a reconciliation theory: our aim is to demonstrate that both the perspectives are practically relevant and thus a general theory of entrepreneurship should take into account the dichotomous nature of entrepreneurial opportunities, distinguishing between objective opportunities and effectually created opportunities.
Both qualitative (case studies) and quantitative (survey) approaches have been planned in order to answer to the research questions presented by this doctoral thesis. Quantitative data should be collected through a survey, sent to the firms of the database Veneto High-Tech (which is described in this thesis). Unfortunately the response rate has been too low.
Case studies accord to the suggestions proposed by Eisenhardt (1989), Yin (2002), Gummeson (2006) and Flyvberg (2006). The exploratory nature of this study suggests the use of a qualitative methodological approach, and in particular the multiple case studies . Multiple case studies research is a useful tool to understand the complex nature of entrepreneurship, as recommended by Gartner and
Birley (2002). The cases have been strategically selected within the considered population (Veneto High-Tech atabase), according to Flyvberg (2006) on basis of size, industry, products, innovative activities, geographical equilibrium and personal knowledge of the entrepreneur. The main limit of this
approach is the possibility to present general determinants of phenomena through a limited number of cases. As we will see below, the cases are based of semi-structured interviews with entrepreneurs. A single case study for every enterprise by the researcher, in order to summarize and better fix the
interviews and the entrepreneur words. A feedback echanism: every single case should be read ,
rectified or amended by the people who has been interviewed. The Nvivo 8 software tool has been used
in order to collect and analyze qualitative data.
The cross case comparison lead us to propose a hierarchical assessment of the motivational drivers.
At individual level the basic motivations that emerge from the cases are the following: a) family
environment, b) necessity (lack of job or not satisfying job alternatives), c)McClelland (1961)
indicators (N-Pow, N-Ach, N-Aff), d) financial return. Once one or more of these motivations are
considered relevant from a potential entrepreneur, other motivational aspects can enrich the reasons for
the Entrepreneurial Choice and the daily effort of the entrepreneur. We asses them as 1) product level motivations: desire to demonstrate the feasibility of the technology applied in the product, f) desire to demonstrate the profitability of the technology applied in the product 2) strategy-level motivations: , g) desire to be innovative h) desire to iversificate and increase the portfolios of products, i) intention to maintain the technological leadership,3) personal responsibility motivations: l) creation of wealth (jobs, legacy, knowledge), m) corporate social responsibility issues.
From a practical point of view the hierarchical assessment of the entrepreneurial motivations can be used for many purposes: 1)as tool for the self-evaluation of motivations, 2)as reference scheme for entrepreneurship education
From the cross comparison we identified three wide categories of entrepreneurial opportunities: 1) technological paradigms with a broad spectrum of potential application
2) niche technologies or specific applications of general technological paradigms that solve a particular problem, leading to a new product or process 3) the market. The case studies suggest that the market is viewed by entrepreneurs as a differential opportunity.Several opportunities which present an objective existence can be identified within the case studies. These opportunities have been recognized and exploited through the process described by Shane (2003). This evidence confirms the ontological and epistemological perspective offered by the so called
“Discovery School”. Furthermore in some case studies is evident the presence of effectual logic (Sarasvathy 2001, 2008), as driving logic of the ntrepreneurial decision making process. The entrepreneurs act both causally and effectually. This fact lead us to confirm the idea that some opportunities exist only in the entrepreneurs’ mind and thus they are created by the entrepreneur herself/himself. We demonstrate, as far as high-tech entrepreneurship is concerned, the co-existence of two processes: recognition and creation. A powerful general theory of entrepreneurship should take into account both of them, and should try to reconcile the Creative and the Discovery School. Unifying two ontological and epistemological perspectives is a true challenge that the community of scholars and researcher is requested to face.

Abstract (italiano)

This doctoral thesis aims to contribute to open a black box called “nexus”. Shane and Venkataraman (2000) assert that entrepreneurship consists of “the nexus of two phenomena: the presence of lucrative opportunities and the presence of enterprising individuals”. Since their work, few authors tried to describe the “nexus” because its complexity and because it can be considered the real ‘ignition spark’ of every entrepreneurial experience. In this thesis, we will try to explore this nexus, focusing on two main components. The joint investigation of individuals and opportunities is a critical research path in order to better clarify the mechanisms and the essence of entrepreneurial behaviours and actions (Davidsson 2008). Therefore from one hand we explore the relevant entrepreneurial motivations that drive the entrepreneurial choices within high-tech emerging ventures. On the other hand we investigate the nature of entrepreneurial opportunities, by asking if high-tech entrepreneurs recognize or create the technological opportunities that they exploit.
In this work a motivation is defined as the activator of a goal oriented behaviour. From a selective review of the literature we note insufficient consideration of the role of the human motivations in the entrepreneurial process within the recent entrepreneurship research. Environmental factors being held constant, human motivation plays a critical role in the entrepreneurial process (Shane et al. 2003). Classical motivational theories like those by Ajzen, Herzberger and Vroom, can be partially exploited as interpretative frameworks for the entrepreneurial process. According to Shane, Collins and Locke (2003) and to Davidsson (2008), the specificity of entrepreneurial phenomena requires dedicated investigation.
The first research question is thus the following. What are the relevant entrepreneurial motivations that drive the entrepreneurial choice within high-tech emerging ventures? How and why motivations change in the phases of life of the firm? We investigate the main motivational driver of high-tech entrepreneurs and eventually we want to identify the mechanism that lead the eventual change of entrepreneurial motivations.
Recent Entrepreneurship research dedicated great attention to the construct called “entrepreneurial opportunity”. (Shane and Venkataraman 2000, ,Sarasvathy et al. 2003, Alvarez and Barney, 2006, Plummer et al. 2007, Davidsson 2008, Harms et al. 2009) Entrepreneurial opportunities are defined as those situations in which new goods, services, raw materials, and organization methods can be introduced in the market and sold at greater than their cost of production (Casson 1982). As far as their epistemological and the ontological features are concerned, two opposite views are available. Opportunities are like mushrooms in the forest (Davidsson 2008) Because of individual differences and information asymmetries all actors do not have access to exactly the same opportunities. This is the core of the “Discovery school”: although recognition of opportunities is a subjective process, the opportunities themselves are objective phenomena that are not known to all parties at all time (Venkataraman 1997, Shane and Venkataraman 2000 AMR, Shane and Eckhardt 2003) The second view is called Creative School: opportunities are created in the entrepreneur’s mind and it is not meaningful to talk about these opportunities separated from their creators. Venture ideas are internally generated based on more or less explicit and correct perceptions of external conditions. (Baker and Nelson 2005,) opportunities do not exist objectively , but are subjectively enacted (Gartner et al. 2001, Sarasvathy 2001,2008)
. Is any reconciliation between the two schools possible? The second question is, thus, the following. Do entrepreneurs recognize or create technological opportunities?. How the two processes – recognition and creation – come off? We are not going to propose a reconciliation theory: our aim is to demonstrate that both the perspectives are practically relevant and thus a general theory of entrepreneurship should take into account the dichotomous nature of entrepreneurial opportunities, distinguishing between objective opportunities and effectually created opportunities.
Both qualitative (case studies) and quantitative (survey) approaches have been planned in order to answer to the research questions presented by this doctoral thesis. Quantitative data should be collected through a survey, sent to the firms of the database Veneto High-Tech (which is described in this thesis). Unfortunately the response rate has been too low.
Case studies accord to the suggestions proposed by Eisenhardt (1989), Yin (2002), Gummeson (2006) and Flyvberg (2006). The exploratory nature of this study suggests the use of a qualitative methodological approach, and in particular the multiple case studies . Multiple case studies research is a useful tool to understand the complex nature of entrepreneurship, as recommended by Gartner and Birley (2002). The cases have been strategically selected within the considered population (Veneto High-Tech database), according to Flyvberg (2006) on basis of size, industry, products, innovative activities, geographical equilibrium and personal knowledge of the entrepreneur. The main limit of this approach is the possibility to present general determinants of phenomena through a limited number of cases.
As we will see below, the cases are based of semi-structured interviews with entrepreneurs. A single case study for every enterprise by the researcher, in order to summarize and better fix the interviews and the entrepreneur words. A feedback mechanism: every single case should be read , rectified or amended by the people who has been interviewed. The Nvivo 8 software tool has been used in order to collect and analyze qualitative data.
The cross case comparison lead us to propose a hierarchical assessment of the motivational drivers. At individual level the basic motivations that emerge from the cases are the following: a) family environment, b) necessity (lack of job or not satisfying job alternatives), c)McClelland (1961) indicators (N-Pow, N-Ach, N-Aff), d) financial return. Once one or more of these motivations are considered relevant from a potential entrepreneur, other motivational aspects can enrich the reasons for the Entrepreneurial Choice and the daily effort of the entrepreneur. We asses them as
1) product level motivations: desire to demonstrate the feasibility of the technology applied in the product, f) desire to demonstrate the profitability of the technology applied in the product
2) strategy-level motivations: , g) desire to be innovative h) desire to diversificate and increase the portfolios of products, i) intention to maintain the technological leadership,
3) personal responsibility motivations: l) creation of wealth (jobs, legacy, knowledge), m) corporate social responsibility issues.
From a practical point of view the hierarchical assessment of the entrepreneurial motivations can be used for many purposes: 1)as tool for the self-evaluation of motivations, 2)as reference scheme for entrepreneurship education
From the cross comparison we identified three wide categories of entrepreneurial opportunities:
1) technological paradigms with a broad spectrum of potential application
2) niche technologies or specific applications of general technological paradigms that solve a particular problem, leading to a new product or process
3) the market. The case studies suggest that the market is viewed by entrepreneurs as a differential opportunity.
Several opportunities which present an objective existence can be identified within the case studies. These opportunities have been recognized and exploited through the process described by Shane (2003). This evidence confirms the ontological and epistemological perspective offered by the so called “Discovery School”. Furthermore in some case studies is evident the presence of effectual logic (Sarasvathy 2001, 2008), as driving logic of the entrepreneurial decision making process. The entrepreneurs act both causally and effectually. This fact lead us to confirm the idea that some opportunities exist only in the entrepreneurs’ mind and thus they are created by the entrepreneur herself/himself. We demonstrate, as far as high-tech entrepreneurship is concerned, the co-existence of two processes: recognition and creation. A powerful general theory of entrepreneurship should take into account both of them, and should try to reconcile the Creative and the Discovery School. Unifying two ontological and epistemological perspectives is a true challenge that the community of scholars and researcher is requested to face.

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Tipo di EPrint:Tesi di dottorato
Relatore:Muffatto, Moreno
Dottorato (corsi e scuole):Ciclo 22 > Scuole per il 22simo ciclo > INGEGNERIA GESTIONALE ED ESTIMO > INGEGNERIA GESTIONALE
Data di deposito della tesi:NON SPECIFICATO
Anno di Pubblicazione:01 Febbraio 2010
Parole chiave (italiano / inglese):entrepreneurship, high-tech entrepreneurship, nexus, creative theory, discovery theory, causation, effectuation, opportunity, entrepreneur, technological strategy, motivation
Settori scientifico-disciplinari MIUR:Area 09 - Ingegneria industriale e dell'informazione > ING-IND/35 Ingegneria economico-gestionale
Struttura di riferimento:Dipartimenti > Dipartimento di Innovazione Meccanica e Gestionale
Codice ID:2981
Depositato il:21 Set 2010 13:04
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