Survival Versus Success
The eventual goal of an entrepreneur, whether technology based or not, is success for his or her enterprise, at least in terms of the entrepreneur's own standards of success. Thus, the foremost consideration in my research program on technological entrepreneurship has been to determine the causes of the high-technology company's success and failure. The problem is that the performance of an enterprise is the culmination of intricate interaction of a large number of factors. Although each alone has its effect on company performance, the proper mix of those factors is no doubt of critical importance and perhaps cannot be discovered. Several different groups of factors, combined in different ways, may produce equally successful companies, each one successful for fundamentally different reasons.
The complexity inherent in the process leading to company performance precludes the possibility of an all-explaining or even all-encompassing "model" of successful technological entrepreneurship. Several prior empirical studies of success and failure tend to emphasize specific characteristics of the entrepreneur or the enterprise, such as motivation ( Smith and Miner, 1984), the "incubating" organization ( Feeser and Willard, 1989), prefunding factors ( Roure and Maidique, 1986), capitalization ( Bruno and Tyebjee, 1985), competitive tactics ( Slevin and Covin, 1987), strategy and industrial structure ( Tushman, Virany and Romanelli, 1985; Sandberg and Hofer, 1987; Dubini, 1989; Fombrun and Wally, 1989; McDougall, 1989; Feeser and Willard, 1990), with a few studies examining many different variables ( Cooper and Bruno, 1977; Van de Ven, Hudson and Schroeder, 1984; Bruno and Leidecker, 1988). References to these and other works are made as appropriate throughout this chapter. In the preceding chapters a number of the key factors that might be related to entrepreneurial performance have been analyzed in depth. Now their potential influences on the eventual success of the technological enterprise need to be evaluated.
A general model of enterprise performance that provides the framework for analysis in this chapter follows the flow of the earlier chapters of this book. One of the most important foundations of a new enterprise that