Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Tying it together: Three essays on the roles of knowledge, entrepreneurial action, and institutions in the formation of new ventures
by Provance, Mike, Ph.D., The George Washington University, 2010, 143; 3404696
Abstract (Summary)

Scholars, policymakers, and entrepreneurs are increasingly interested in understanding the factors that influence successful new venture formation from a holistic perspective. Many view the lone, heroic entrepreneur as only one element or node in a complex system of entrepreneurial activity that contributes to growth in regional and national economies. However, some entrepreneurship literature seems to suggest that entrepreneurs are central players in these systems rather than one of several contributing forces that shape the innovation system and foster sustainable entrepreneurship. Developing a more nuanced and systemic view of how these forces co-exist offers the potential for expanding our knowledge of the entrepreneurial phenomenon.

This dissertation addresses two questions that emerge from this phenomenon: (1) How do new ventures contend with the forces of institutionalization in their processes of entrepreneurial action, and (2) how do these processes affect growth (at both firm and regional levels of analysis)? The study develops theory more holistically around the interaction of institutions and entrepreneurs and then uses it to undertake an empirical study with simulation to investigate these questions from regional and venture levels of analysis. The conceptual model is presented using entrepreneurial business model choice in the microgeneration industry as an explanatory context. Informal and formal institutional environments interact with socio-institutional factors to shape the decision-making of entrepreneurs when choosing business models, but these choices and the actions that result from them lead to shifts in the socio-institutional environment of the industry and over time effect changes in informal institutional layers that span the economic environment more broadly across regions and nations.

The simulation was constructed to emulate the actions of new ventures and incumbent firms to appropriate external knowledge through formal partner networks and informal knowledge clusters in order to construct innovations and sell them to buyers in the market. It modeled the behaviors underlying this process in order to test the effects of changes in the conditions of the simulation on new venture formation outcomes. The evidence from this simulation was used to examine both knowledge appropriation factors influencing sustainable entrepreneurship at a regional level and the process of new venture formation at an individual venture level.

The results from these studies reinforce the existing premise in the literature that formal networks are important to the formation of new ventures, but the structure of those networks may have dramatically different outcomes based on the nature of the institutional environment the venture resides in. New ventures should seek out and develop the 'right' networks for their situation and location. What ‘right’ looks like depends on nature of the new venture and its knowledge appropriation process, and the type of environment the entrepreneur is operating in. The same network (and type of network) in Silicon Valley may not work as well in Research Triangle Park, or one built from a US base should not look or work the same as one in Japan or China. This dissertation expands our understanding of formation processes for new ventures and the particular interactions that occur between these ventures and the institutions that surround them. It makes contributions to the entrepreneurship and neo-institutionalism literature in this regard.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Carayannis, Elias G.
Commitee: Donnelly, Richard G., Lee, Hun, Phene, Anupama, Waters, Robert C.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Information Systems & Technology Management
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 71/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Entrepreneurship, Management, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Innovation systems, Institutional theory, Institutions, Knowledge, New ventures, Simulation, System dynamics
Publication Number: 3404696
ISBN: 978-1-124-01894-2
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