Initial conditions or process of development? Critical incidents in the early stages of new ventures

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Abstract:

Past research on new venture creation has focussed on initial conditions of start–ups or on the process of evolution. However, few studies have investigated the transitory stage when initial conditions changeover to a process of evolution. The aim of this paper is to investigate critical incidents infant new ventures face in this transitory stage. The paper covers two areas. First, a review of selected process models of new venture creation is conducted. Results from this review concludes that existing models as described in the literature are associated with several weaknesses: they oversimplify the phenomenon studied as they most often focus on one aspect only and they do not deal with how entrepreneurs adapt to specific situational conditions. Furthermore, the review indicates that the starting–point of a process often is hard to specify and characterize. Second, an empirical study based on the critical incident technique is reported on. On the basis of interviews with founders and entrepreneurial service providers related to the companies 65 critical incidents were identified. This equals an average of 8.1 incidents per company during a period of 6–18 months. Financing and recruiting were the most frequent and most important activities to manage. Then follows reference/first customer in third place. A common pattern of occurring incidents was identified among the ventures. However, in relation to the first round of venture capital financing a strategic choice was made. Either the companies followed a growth strategy and recruitment and organizational development were key goals, or the company focussed on building a patent portfolio. A tentative model is suggested that describes this process in detail.

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9310.00290

Affiliations: Royal Institute of Technology

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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