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Edited by François Thérin, Francesco P. Appio and Hyungseok Yoon

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Edited by François Thérin, Francesco P. Appio and Hyungseok Yoon

Techno-entrepreneurship is defined as the entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial activities of both incumbent and nascent companies operating in a technology- or knowledge-intensive environment that encourages and fosters the development and introduction of technology-based and knowledge-intensive novel products, services, production methods, or business models (Therin, 2009; 2014). It serves as an important conduit to firm growth, job and new industry creation, and economic development (Acs et al., 2016; Audretsch, 2007; Baumol, 2010; Carree and Thurik, 2003; Yoon et al., 2018). Despite its significant socio-economic and spillover effects across other constituents of the global economy, technoentrepreneurship entails high risk and uncertainty that are mainly derived from the fast and dynamically changing nature of technology. Drawing on dynamic and broad views on the phenomenon, this handbook aims to deepen our understanding of techno-entrepreneurship by proposing novel theoretical frameworks, introducing emerging categories of techno-entrepreneurship, and exploring new patterns in entrepreneurial ecosystems and across different countries by using a variety of unique data sources. First, current research is showing that new theoretical frameworks are needed in order to cope with the growing relevance of techno-entrepreneurship initiatives in different countries (Shan et al., 2018; Chaudhry et al., 2018; Judge et al., 2015; Yu et al., 2009; Venkataram, 2004; Phan and Der Foo, 2004; Baark, 1994). At the same time, we have relatively little understanding about emerging categories of entrepreneurship. Accordingly, we include a chapter dedicated to proposing new roles of technological embeddedness in techno-entrepreneurship, and explore relatively new categories of entrepreneurship that are closely related to reverse and frugal innovation, the drone industry, and gender-specific entrepreneurship.

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Yasuyuki Motoyama

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Friederike Welter

This paper sets out to explore contexts for entrepreneurship, illustrating how a contextualized view of entrepreneurship contributes to our understanding of the phenomenon. There is growing recognition in entrepreneurship research that economic behavior can be better understood within its historical, temporal, institutional, spatial, and social contexts, as these contexts provide individuals with opportunities and set boundaries for their actions. Context can be an asset and a liability for the nature and extent of entrepreneurship, but entrepreneurship can also impact contexts. The paper argues that context is important for understanding when, how, and why entrepreneurship happens and who becomes involved. Exploring the multiplicity of contexts and their impact on entrepreneurship, it identifies challenges researchers face in contextualizing entrepreneurship theory and offers possible ways forward.

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David Smallbone and Friederike Welter

This paper is concerned with the distinctiveness of entrepreneurship and small business development in countries that are at different stages of transition to market based economies. Following a discussion of the potential relevance of selected conceptualisations of entrepreneurship to transition conditions, the authors present original empirical data referring to the characteristics of entrepreneurs and their businesses from countries at different stages of market reform. Distinctive features of entrepreneurial behaviour identified reflect the unstable and hostile nature of the external environment and the scarcity of key resources, particularly capital. In an unstable and weakly structured environment, informal networks often play a key role in helping entrepreneurs to mobilise resources, win orders and cope with the constraints imposed by highly bureaucratic structures and often unfriendly officials. Moreover, the social context inherited from the former socialist period appears to affect both the attitudes and behaviour of entrepreneurs and the attitudes of society at large towards entrepreneurship.

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David Smallbone and Friederike Welter

This paper investigates the meaning and appropriateness of concepts of necessity and opportunity driven entrepreneurship in early stage transition economies, where market reform has been slow and institutional deficiencies make the environment for productive entrepreneurship difficult. Using a combination of survey and case study evidence, the authors show the limitations of extracting such terms from their social context, with implications for the assessment of the entrepreneurial capacity of these countries. Moreover, it is argued that such concepts pay insufficient attention to dynamic influences, such as the learning capacity of individuals, particularly in contexts where entrepreneurs typically possess considerable human capital.

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Friederike Welter and Frank Lasch

With this article, as introduction to a special issue on entrepreneurship research in Europe, we hope to initiate a discussion about the importance of grounding entrepreneurship research in its national context. Different European researchers, all knowledgeable about the entrepreneurship research scene in their respective country, present the state of the research field for France, Germany, the United Kingdom (Blackburn & Smallbone, 2008); and Scandinavia. Two articles from U.S. authors complement this issue, reviewing differences in how entrepreneurship scholars measure the phenomenon and assessing the European approach(es). This special issue sets out to demonstrate the value of variety in the field - variety that very much depends on the different national, methodological, and thematic contexts entrepreneurship research takes place in.

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Jürgen Schmude, Friederike Welter and Stefan Heumann

This article explores entrepreneurship research in Germany, paying particular attention to its origins and current “re-emergence.” Since the late 1990s, the field has gained ground, as is reflected in an increasing number of entrepreneurship chairs at universities, and the establishment of an annual national entrepreneurship conference. A particular strength of the German approach to researching entrepreneurship, which can be traced back directly to the historical roots, is found to be its consideration of context specificity and embeddedness, going hand-in-hand with a strong multidisciplinary tendency. These are two features where entrepreneurship research in Germany could add a distinctive flavor to the current mainstream debate. In practice, the diffusion of this perspective is inhibited by an insufficient exchange with the international scientific community.

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Friederike Welter, Ted Baker, David B. Audretsch and William B. Gartner

This essay contrasts a perspective that places an excessive focus on technology businesses and growth with a view of entrepreneurship that embraces its heterogeneity. We challenge a taken-for-granted belief that only certain kinds of entrepreneurship might lead to wealth and job creation and additionally suggest that these two outcomes (wealth and job creation) need to be placed within a broader context of reasons, purposes, and values for why and how entrepreneurship emerges. We suggest that a wider and nondiscriminatory perspective on what constitutes entrepreneurship will lead to better theory and more insights that are relevant to the phenomenon.

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Elin M. Oftedal and Lene Foss

This chapter discusses how responsible start-ups are met in the health sector. Through following three companies, Voco, Cora and Medicus, we acquire insight into the world of challenges the entrepreneurs have when they introduce their technology/service to the healthcare sector. Using institutional theory, we look at the regulative, normative and cognitive dimension of the institutional framework. We use the term ‘institutional wall’ to denote a dense network of formal laws and regulation, informal norms and knowledge and beliefs that act as barriers for the entrepreneurs to access the market. We find that while there is a positive development in the regulative dimension: both the regulative and the normative dimension are set up to favour larger companies. The founders’ responses to the cognitive dimension indicate a lack of belief in Norwegian technology and thus tough access to finance.