The Digital Economy: A Look at the Integration of Strategic Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Digital Start Ups
Edwards, Delyce Sheree
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The purpose of this study is to examine the links between explorative and exploitative behaviors among start-ups in a digital economy, what drives innovation, and what effect the digital economy has on this using and building upon framework previously developed by Ireland et al. (2003;2011) The link between strategic entrepreneurship and how the digital economy affects it within the realm of start-ups is an area that has not been explicitly studied in depth before. This research uses qualitative, semi-structured interviews with the co-founders of three digital start-up firms. Through an interpretative viewpoint, an analysis of emergent themes in the data was compared to existing research in the strategic entrepreneurship, innovation, and dynamic capabilities literature to develop insights into relating conceptual ideas. Six main themes of creation, exploration, exploitation, networks/collaboration, human capital, and digital environment, were identified with denoted how a start-up explores and exploits opportunities, innovation, and operates in a digital economy. These themes showed the digital economy provided ample opportunity for each start-up to identify new opportunities by constant environmental scanning and more accessible access information of emergent trends and market data within their respective fields; this was often guided by a founding strategic vision. The digital economy removed geographical boundaries, which exposed them to larger client bases, helped develop and manage external collaborations with other businesses that provided more significant resources and financial capital, and allowed each start-up to gain competitive advantages over rivals. Human capital was also noted as crucial for each start-up, especially when it came to the ability to explore and exploit new ideas and opportunities. Each start-up created an environment that was conducive to open collaboration. Networks enabled all three start-ups to access more resources, markets, and created competitive advantages. These findings confirm research put forth by Ireland et al. (2003;2011) and Mazzei (2017) and added in the effects of hyper globalization, cross-cultural targeting, agility, and further elaboration on exploration and exploitation.