University of Twente Student Theses


Entrepreneurial processes and learning in high tech start-up businesses: how entrepreneurs learn while creating a new venture in different perceived environments

Mannes, S.L. (2013) Entrepreneurial processes and learning in high tech start-up businesses: how entrepreneurs learn while creating a new venture in different perceived environments.

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Abstract:The central concepts in this master thesis are entrepreneurial processes and entrepreneurial learning. The objective is to see how entrepreneurs go from an idea to an actual venture. When an opportunity is recognised it is argued that an entrepreneur can create a new venture by going through the entrepreneurial process. The processes are presented as effectuation and causation (Sarasvathy, 2001). It is argued that not the low wage economies, but instead the other high knowledge economies are the biggest threat to our economies. Therefore, learning is essential to create a competitive advantage. Learning during the entrepreneurial process is referred to as entrepreneurial learning (Politis, 2005). Entrepreneurial learning in itself is also a process of transforming experience into knowledge. This transformation can be facilitated by either exploration of new products, markets or opportunities or by exploitation of current products by refinement and incremental innovation (March, 1991). Effectuation and exploration are concepts with similar characteristics and therefore it is argued that these concepts are related to each other. In contrast, causation and exploitation also share similar characteristics and are therefore related to each other. Research is performed by asking technological start up companies how they start up the companies and how they learn, while going to the process. Additionally, environmental dynamism, hostility and heterogeneity are believed to influence these relationships which are also investigated. The main research method was a qualitative measurement instrument. Through a process of thinking aloud a business case was solved, making cognitive processes such as causation and effectuation measurable. This qualitative measurement is supported by a quantitative measurement instrument. A questionnaire was completed to measure causation and effectuation quantitatively, to measure entrepreneurial learning and to measure the external environmental components. The results indicate that these concepts are indeed related to each other to some degree, but that these relationships are quite complex. Significant relationships have been found between antecedents of the entrepreneurial processes and learning. However, support for the hypotheses is limited. The expected relationships between antecedents of effectuation and entrepreneurial learning are all different from the relationships found in this research, rejecting H1a – H1d. The results for hypotheses H1e and H2 are in line with the expectations, but are not significant. Additional t-tests showed the same result, rejecting these hypotheses as well. Finally, the influence of the environment was hypothesised. The analysis produced a significant influence of heterogeneity on the relationship between effectuation and entrepreneurial learning. Hostility also influences the relationship, but these influences were not great enough to be statistical significant. The outcomes in combination with the limitations provide fruitful avenues for further research. A large quantitative research could investigate the relationship of entrepreneurial processes and learning during this process with greater statistical power. A qualitative study where both entrepreneurial processes and entrepreneurial learning are measured using a similar think aloud business case could provide more in-depth insights into these relationships.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
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