Home Computer Science Technological Entrepreneurship: Technology-Driven vs Market-Driven Innovation
Currently there is no single definition of entrepreneurship accepted by all in the academic community. The Oxford English Dictionary defines entrepreneurship as the activity of individuals who ‘attempt to profit by risk and initiative’. Most people would associate this somewhat broad perspective with a wide range of activities, only some of which would be perceived as entrepreneurial.
The term entrepreneurship is increasingly appearing in academic literature and being applied to an ever-widening range of different situations; some of these applications are, arguably, not entirely appropriate. For example, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) operated by Babson and the University of London regards the number of individuals indicating an interest in starting a new small business as a measure of entrepreneurial activity within a nation. This is despite the fact that most of these individuals will not engage in what could be considered an entrepreneurial endeavour. Instead the vast majority will become involved in ‘me too’ propositions, such as opening a shop, hairdressing or garden maintenance.
The topic of entrepreneurship has also become increasingly popular as a higher education subject. However, examination of course content reveals that many of these programmes focus exclusively on the creation and management of small firms. This is despite the fact that some of the world’s most successful companies are utilising entrepreneurship as the cornerstone of their activities for acquiring and sustaining competitive advantage in increasingly volatile and unstable world markets (Fayolle 2008; Trividi 2013).
In an attempt to propose a definition which could provide an accurate framework for determining whether an individual or an organisation can be considered entrepreneurial, Chaston (2016) focused upon the fundamental importance of this very specific form of innovation. He posited that, generically, the outcome of all innovation is some form of change. In the majority of situations, however, the conventional exploitation of innovation aims to achieve an incremental improvement in a product, service or process. The magnitude of change does not require any significant behaviour shift by customers or the need to acquire new understanding in order to be able to utilise the innovation. Examples of conventional innovation in the world of branded goods include a detergent that has better whitening power or the addition of new flavours to expand the variety of canned soups that are made available to consumers.
This situation can be contrasted with entrepreneurial innovation, where there is a fundamental change in an existing product, service or process, or the introduction of a proposition that is totally new to the world. In such cases significant education of the potential user is necessary to gain widespread market adoption. Even more importantly, entrepreneurial innovation will usually have the potential to replace existing propositions, in some cases on a scale that renders these latter goods completely obsolete. On this basis, Chaston proposed the following definition:
Entrepreneurship is an activity which disrupts existing market conventions or leads to the emergence of totally new conventions.
If the validity of the above definition is accepted, the role of technology- driven change can be defined as follows:
Technological entrepreneurship is an activity involving the exploitation of a new or existing technology which disrupts existing market conventions or leads to the emergence of totally new conventions.
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