Knowledge Intensive Entrepreneurship
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Knowledge Intensive Entrepreneurship

The Birth, Growth and Demise of Entrepreneurial Firms

Frédéric Delmar and Karl Wennberg

How and why are firms created, expanded and terminated by entrepreneurs in the knowledge intensive economy? The authors show these entrepreneurship processes are firmly embedded in a given social and economic context, that shapes the process by which some individuals discover entrepreneurial opportunities, creating new firms that sometimes grow to remarkable size, but more often stay mundane or eventually exit.
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Chapter 2: The Knowledge Intensive Sector: Theoretical Concerns, Research Design and Data

Frédéric Delmar and Karl Wennberg


This chapter describes the knowledge intensive sectors, highlighting their characteristics and increasingly important role for economic development in industrialized economies. THE KNOWLEDGE INTENSIVE ECONOMY We are interested in entrepreneurial activities in knowledge intensive sectors since these have been recognized as having potentially great economic value (Acs, 2002). We, as the field of research in entrepreneurship in general, are moving from a view where “all forms of entrepreneurship are good” towards a more nuanced view where “high-potential entrepreneurship” is what matters for economic development (Autio & Acs, 2007; Henrekson & Johansson, 2010). By studying the entrepreneurial activities of this group we can better understand how new technological knowledge is converted into economic growth. As we will see, knowledge intensive does not equate with high-tech manufacturing. On the contrary, in the case of Sweden at least, knowledge intensive is to be tightly connected to the service sector in terms of number of employees, number of firms, and total sales. We have arrived at a point in economic history where Adam Smith’s classical statement probably does not ring as true as it used to: the labour of a manufacturer adds, generally, to the value of materials which he works upon. The labour of a menial servant, on the contrary, adds to the value of nothing. . . . [The servant’s labour] . . . does not fix or realize itself in any particular subject or vendible commodity. His services generally perish in the very instant of their performance. Following the viewpoint of Adam Smith about services as inherently unproductive, economists and...

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