Three Essays on Navigating the Stages in New Venture Creation

Starting a new venture is arguably an exciting journey into previously unknown territories. Since entrepreneurs, through their economic activities, are central to social prosperity, academic research has a strong interest to understand who those entrepreneurs are and what they do. Much is yet unknown about how entrepreneurs think and what behaviors emerge from their thought processes. Consequently, in this dissertation I set out to explore and provide new insights on behavior, cognitive processes, and managerial practices that entrepreneurs employ to navigate the demands and complexities of the venturing process. The first paper puts the aspiring entrepreneur center stage. Starting a new venture is an intentional activity; however, not everyone who exhibits the wish to start a new venture actually does so. For a long time, the entrepreneurship research community has clung to the notion that intention is the single best predictor for action. Yet, empirical evidence from large-scale studies indicates that this view may not reflect reality. Significant time lags exist between the intent to found a venture and actual pursuit, and high dropout rates hint that additional elements are necessary beyond intent. Our current understanding of entrepreneurial intention largely fails to predict when and under which circumstances aspiring entrepreneurs will actually implement their intentions. Consequently, this research addresses the question of which amongst those who aspire to become an entrepreneur is more likely to execute their entrepreneurial intentions. In order to answer that question, the paper builds on fragmented and disparate work of personality, cognition, affect, and self-regulatory mechanisms and develops a theoretical model that helps explain individual-level factors that enable the budding entrepreneur to cross the intent-action-gap and persevere in the venturing process. Paper 2 takes as a starting point the belief that resources are essential to the success of firms. To the extent that those resources are fungible, i.e. can be amended to several different services and linked to different market applications, they are an important driver of value creation and the trajectory of new firms. In fact, recent research highlights that new firms derive performance benefits when identifying multiple opportunities prior to market entry. However, it remains hitherto understudied as to which factors play a role in this process of leveraging technological competences. We approach this topic by focusing on the identification of new technology-market- linkages through person-resource-interaction. While previous research has predominantly studied the impact of the person in terms of competencies and prior knowledge, this paper looks at the resource and examines how resource properties shape the human perception of opportunity spaces. Building on 24 in-depth case studies of different early-stage technologies from the labs of EPFL, this study provides detailed insights on how differences in the value creation potential of resources emerge from the interplay between several factors pertinent to the resource itself and the subsequent human reasoning. This work contributes to the microfoundations of the resource-based view of the firm and thus has implications for several areas of research, most notably strategic management, organization and innovation studies, and entrepreneurship. Paper 3 finally shifts focus onto specific managerial practices. From the vantage point that firms develop market strategies and application portfolios built on technological resources, current research has yet to address how the strategic and practical needs of the firm align with the requirements of protecting the intellectual property and inventions comprising those resources and what means of protection provide optimal avenues for future exploitation. Traditionally, protecting IP is associated with patenting. However, the procedural requirements and the high cost of the patenting process often act as a barrier for small firms to obtain legal property rights. This puts them at a potential disadvantage in appropriating returns from their inventions. It is hence surprising how little is known, both in the practical and the research domains, as to the uses of IP defense regimes that combine patenting and non-patenting mechanisms, notably alternative disclosure through defensive publication. This paper advances a framework that helps identify under which circumstances firms may benefit from the strategic use of defensive publication in their IP management. Through survey data from a sample of 89 innovative European SMEs we provide initial empirical evidence on the prevalence of such complementary IP strategies, and thus prepare the ground for further detailed studies. This work advances current literature on IP management by SMEs, introducing the hitherto understudied mechanism of strategic disclosure, and it will ultimately help identify a potential source of performance differences of innovative SMEs. In summary, this dissertation takes up three interesting and hitherto understudied phenomena of the multi-faceted venturing process. Through cross-disciplinary theory- driven inquiry and multi-method approaches, this dissertation adds new perspectives and generates new insights that extend our understanding of how entrepreneurs think and act.


Advisor(s):
Gruber, Marc
Year:
2012
Publisher:
Lausanne, EPFL
Keywords:
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis5260-9
Laboratories:


Note: The status of this file is: EPFL only


 Record created 2011-11-03, last modified 2020-03-18

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