The Cutting Edge
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The Cutting Edge

Innovation and Entrepreneurship in New Europe

Edited by Ruta Aidis and Friederike Welter

This original selection of case studies from eight new EU member countries looks at the ability of entrepreneurs to develop innovative and successful firms in an environment of turbulent social and economic change.
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Chapter 9: Seaway: Building Boats in Slovenia

Daniel Shapiro, Vahčič Ales and Papania Lisa


Daniel Shapiro, Ales Vahc ic and Lisa Papania ˇ ˇ ˇ INTRODUCTION Entrepreneurial activity, the capacity to create and sustain new businesses, has been a challenge for emerging and transition economies, but is at the same time critical for their success (McMillan and Woodruff 2002). The main feature of the environment in transition countries is the movement from a system based on planning to one based on markets. Even though most transition economies did contain some privately owned firms, even before liberalization, the environment for entrepreneurship has been characterized as ‘hostile’ (Smallbone and Welter 2001). Although there are various factors that contribute to this, most result from the absence of wellfunctioning markets and supportive market institutions (Khanna et al. 2005; Khanna and Rivkin 2001). Market failures in emerging and transition markets not only limit opportunities, but are associated with problems in raising capital and with finding appropriate human and physical capital, or more generally in acquiring necessary complementary resources (Meyer and Peng 2005; Aidis 2005). Despite these obstacles, successful entrepreneurial firms do emerge. Seaway, a Slovenian company, is one of the world’s leading developers of sailing boats and powerboats, engaged in the end-to-end production process from design, engineering, and tooling, to the manufacture of components. The company was founded by two brothers, Japec and Jernej Jakopin as a boat design company in 1989. Today, the company sells its products and services globally, and is currently the leading producer of sailing boat rudders and bearings. Its competitive advantage is, in part, based on its...

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