Incubators and new technology-based firms - A resource-based view of development
Abstract: New technology-based firms (NTBFs) are based upon the exploitation of a new technology. This often means that there are few other than the founder who understands the technology, and in addition the firm often aims at serving a market in a new way or operating on a presently non-existent one. Therefore, it can be hard to determine the future potential of NTBFs, and this causes growth constraints on the firm. However, the NTBFs that do survive contribute to industrial and regional growth on a long-term perspective through, for example, knowledge spillovers as well as finding and developing product concepts. The incubator on the other hand can be seen as a provider or mediator accelerating the development of promising NTBFs. As a provider the incubator mobilizes resources and adjusts them to the needs of the particular NTBF. The mediator role can instead be seen when the incubator connects the NTBF to members of the incubators external network. The basis of the resource-based view is that a competitive advantage comes from the heterogeneity in terms of resources between firms. Imitability of valuable resources makes the competitive advantage sustainable. The newness of the NTBFs implies that they are in the process of trying to obtain or develop their resources. These resources include capabilities that determine how well the organization is able to perform a certain task. Furthermore, resources like funding, patenting, human resources and intangible resources are needed. Similarly, the incubator benefits from knowledge workers, funding and continuous improvements of the knowledge base in order to serve the NTBFs and maintain fruitful external relations. Consequently, this thesis has the purpose of exploring how the obtaining of resources link incubators and NTBFs. This exploration includes three papers in which the first two are devoted to the incubator, and the NTBFs respectively, in order to understand the resource needs of these two types of organizations. However, the third paper focuses on the links between the incubator and the NTBF in terms of providing links to external actors. Further, the exploration includes empirical findings from both qualitative and quantitative data that have been gathered within the Swedish incubator program during 1999 and 2005. The concluding discussion suggests that the human and knowledge resources of the incubator increase the external resources and the capabilities of the NTBFs. A successful NTBF in turn improves the human and knowledge resources of the incubator through knowledge sharing and an increased reputation. An increased survival rate of NTBFs will also positively affect the public funding of the incubator. It is in this way that a positive spiral is created where the resources of the incubator accumulate as more and more successful NTBFs are generated. Failing NTBFs will, on the other hand, also make it more difficult for the incubator to obtain and maintain resources. Seeing the connections between incubators and NTBFs in this way further emphasizes the element of path dependency in the development of these organizations. Subsequently, there is also a long-term aspect of the expected results on regions and industries from public investments made in them.
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