ICT Opportunities Unlimited: The International Dimension in Opportunity Development

ICT Opportunities Unlimited: The International Dimension in Opportunity Development

Ingrid Wakkee (VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands) and Peter van der Sijde (VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-998-4.ch009
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Abstract

Previous studies suggest that the majority of global startups have no choice but to operate across borders from day one (e.g., Oviatt and McDougall, 1994) to pursue their opportunities. Yet, few studies have explored how the opportunities for such firms come into existence and drive the emergence of global startups. In this chapter, we describe the process by which such opportunities originate, starting with a universal and fluid idea and moving into an opportunity that is at first moldable but that becomes increasingly coagulated. In addition, we describe how global startups make use of ICT to embed into a global network during this process.
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Introduction

In the last two decades, research on international entrepreneurship focused on recently founded firms and their international activities (e.g., Zahra and George, 2002). A wealth of evidence presented in the literature suggests that the majority of startups or international new ventures have no choice but to operate across borders from day one (e.g., Oviatt and McDougall, 1994) to pursue their opportunities. A major theme in international entrepreneurship according to Dimitratos and Jones (2005) is international opportunity perception. Yet, to date, few scholars looked beyond the process of inception (Madsen and Servais, 1997; Wakkee, 2004; Kirwan, Van der Sijde, and Groen, 2007) and examined the process opportunity development underlying these (global) ventures. Our contribution will look into the process by which an opportunity scenario unfolds in the context of global startups. We will link theoretical insights on opportunity recognition (see, e.g., Bhave, 1994; Ardichvili, Cardozo, and Ray, 2003; Schwartz and Teach, 2000; Sigrist, 1999) to theoretical insights on international entrepreneurship (Oviatt and McDougall, 2005) and of ICT-supported communication. We will utilize insights from cases previously published in the global start-up literature to illustrate and conceptualize how entrepreneurs virtually embed themselves (Morse, Fowler, and Lawrence, 2007) and use IT to interact with international contacts throughout this process.

This chapter is structured as follows. First, we present a brief discussion of the global start-up concept as it evolved in the literature over the past two decades. Second, we present a review of contemporary insights on the opportunity recognition process. From this review, we will argue that ideas, which are the basis of any opportunity recognition process, are both “universal” and “fluid,” meaning that they can lead to a variety of opportunities to be exploited. Opportunities, in turn, start out as being “moldable,” but they become increasingly “coagulated” as the venture in which they will be exploited begins to take shape. The actual exploitation process is beyond the scope of this paper and will not be discussed. Using evidence from previously published cases, we describe the process, starting with an idea via the business opportunity to the opportunity scenario (see Box 1 for an overview). We especially pay attention to the international dimension (markets and resources). Third, we explore how global startups use ICT to support the process from a universal and fluid idea towards becoming a coagulated opportunity. We end this chapter with a future research agenda and a conclusion. See Box 1.

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