Edited by Ayala Malach-Pines and Mustafa F. Özbilgin
Chapter 21: Assisting the Growth of Small Technology Firms: An Educator’s Perspective
William J. Lekse Introduction Technology entrepreneurs are credited not only with starting new ventures but also with leading their organizations through spectacular growth (for example, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Henry Ford). Entrepreneurs’ exploitation of their new technologies can provide a business with significant new wealth, substantial long-term value and increased long-term survival (Tushman and Anderson, 1986; Christensen, 1997; Walsh and Kirchhoff, 2002). However, this process can also provide an opportunity for economic disaster for a start-up firm (Tushman and Anderson, 1986; Van de Ven, 1986; Christensen, 1997). Literature indicates that ‘growth is the very essence of entrepreneurship’ (Sexton and Smilor, 1997, p. 97) and technology start-ups tend to grow faster than non-technology start-ups (Almus and Nerlinger, 2004). Technology-based entrepreneurs face the same marketplace obstacles as retail entrepreneurs, but in addition, the former usually have based their new venture on a technology breakthrough that may have multiple commercial applications (Shane, 2000). A major limitation for growth of technology entrepreneurial firms is their inability to continually alter, improve, and/or replace their firm’s competencies and individual capabilities (Autio and Lumme, 1998). Edith Penrose (1959) noted that the rapid expansion of firms is particularly difficult to manage. As entrepreneurs have high aspirations they usually find themselves with fewer resources than the first appraisal of an opportunity requires. The early decisions of new growth firms are extremely important as the firms most probably lack sufficient resources and competencies to initially support their growth aspirations (Churchill and Lewis, 1983). Sanchez (2004, p. 521) defined competence...
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