The Technological Base of the New Enterprise
The forty plus years since World War II have defined technological advance as an integral part of our society and a key basis for both military and industrial competition. Among other vital contributions, technology provides the raison d'etre for the formation and growth of myriad new firms. The opportunities presented by advancing technology, however, have not been seized by all potential entrepreneurs. As shown in Chapter 3 the unique companies that are technology-based new enterprises are for the most part founded by individuals highly trained in existing technology. The new technical ventures have originated from similar technology-based organizational environments or sources.
All entrepreneurs must possess some sort of entrepreneurial spirit. In addition, however, high-technology companies at their formation depend on the transfer of technology or technological know-how learned or created by the entrepreneur from a variety of incubating sources. Increasing numbers of studies are examining that incubation process ( Cooper, 1984; Cooper and Bruno, 1977; Doutriaux, 1984; The Economist, 1983; Feeser and Willard, 1990; Roberts, 1968; Smilor and Gill, 1986). Fewer focus on detailed aspects of the technical base of the firm at its time of origin ( Meyer and Roberts, 1988; Olleros, 1986; Roberts and Hauptman, 1986). Consequently, the theoretical framework presented below rests more on logic and surmise from experience than from prior academic research. This chapter presents that framework and empirical evidence on the determinants of the initial technological basis for these new enterprises.
Figure 4-1 presents a schematic (or descriptive flow model) of what might be involved in the personal generation and/or use of technology, here applied as the basis for a new firm. The question underlying the model is: Under what circumstances does a founder of a new firm use know-how he or she was exposed to and possibly acquired as an employee of a prior "technology source organization"? Solid lines in the diagram represent the