Entrepreneurship, Technology and Change: A Review and Proposal for an Interpretative Framework
16 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2014
Date Written: 2011
The objective of the present chapter is to analyze the relationship between entrepreneurship and change in technological domains, with the focus on possible causal relations in both directions. It aims at investigating how technological changes generate opportunities that entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial organizations can properly exploit, and shedding light on how entrepreneurial behavior can be a promoter of change in both technology-intensive and technology-adopting businesses. Over the last 15 years we have been assisting (and keep on assisting, even nowadays) a spectacular amount of changes generated by science and technology. Technology is commonly numbered among the top drivers of a strong entrepreneurial ‘renaissance’ (Dosi, 1982; Arend, 1999), in particular thanks to its pervasive role, to its dramatic and irreversible development, and to the fact that recent technological changes (especially in ICT, green tech, biotechnology and life sciences) are generating opportunities that may be effectively developed by entrepreneurial firms (Stam and Garnsey, 2007). The starting point for our meditation on this topic is the perception that ‘entrepreneurship is about change’ (Audrestch, 2002); among all change enablers, we focus on technology because it is inherently pervasive and generates opportunities that can be caught by an entrepreneurial organization. At the same time entrepreneurial posture may be able to generate significant push in technological advancement and innovation. We approach these topics along two main perspectives: on the one hand we try to go beyond a mere focus on the radical, architectural, and product-related technical change; we analyze both technology producers and technology users (i.e. individuals or firms capable of exploiting technologies as a tool for change), which is somewhat novel in the literature on technology and entrepreneurship. On the other, we consider how the link between technological change and entrepreneurship varies along the firm’s life cycle; in particular what is the role of entrepreneurship in large and mature businesses? We thus encompass the scientific advancement that has overcome the Schumpeterian dichotomy of incumbent vs. new firms in innovative regimes. The goal of this chapter is to formulate a conceptual map, based on a literature review, for homogenous handling of the book chapters. We also intend to provide a reconciliation of disciplines such as strategic management, entrepreneurship and technological change in the context of recent research progresses. Finally we aim to suggest room for future research. We based our analysis on a literature survey carried out on sixty journals included in the ABS ranking, that are in the areas of entrepreneurship, strategic management, and innovation. Through this survey we selected a number of papers which helped us to identify in the extant literature on entrepreneurship and technological change recent trends and new emerging concepts. The survey was conducted as suggested by Schildt et al. (2006): for the last three years, each issue and volume has been examined, while a second analysis has been performed on the last ten years, based on indexed research of papers containing the words ‘technologic(al) change’ and ‘entrepreneur(ship/ial)’ in the title. This resulted in more than 600 paper titles; given the nature of our research interest, we then only selected papers (both theoretical and empirical) based on the firm- or industry-level perspective and practically no individual level related papers have been included. A deeper analysis of titles enabled the identification of more than 100 contributions which were considered as relevant if at least one of the following conditions was verified: (a) the paper described entrepreneurship, or theorizes on it, within the technological domain; (b) the paper described technological changes in an entrepreneurial regime; (c) the paper suggested causality links between entrepreneurship and technological change, and/or vice versa. The chapter is organized as follows: in Section 2 we introduce evidence and debates regarding the definition of entrepreneurship; Section 3 introduces the dimensions and antecedents of technological change, providing a knowledge-based perspective that is functional to illustrate a bidirectional relationship with entrepreneurship (shown in Section 4). Section 5 discusses the role of innovation dynamics at the crossroads between entrepreneurship and technological change, deriving a conceptual map for the understanding of their mutual causality relation. Section 6 summarizes and concludes.
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