Firm-specific determinants of success for small high technology international start-ups : a performance study of UK and US firms
Today's business environment has been fundamentally transformed as a result of the world's recent evolution into the information age, along with the advent of the global economy. Knowledge-intensive firms have proliferated in this new economy and have been observed to employ more proactive and rapid internationalisation strategies than traditional firms. While traditional start-ups generally originate as domestic firms and gradually evolve into multinational enterprises, contemporary start-ups increasingly begin as international firms. This study set out to examine several key dimensions of these emerging high technology international start-ups, conducting a quantitative and qualitative study in the UK and US in order to enhance academic knowledge by addressing crucial gaps in the limited extant literature. The study's primary research objective was to identify firm-specific success factors for small high technology international start-ups, so as to understand what specific founder, organisation, and product and marketing strategy characteristics are correlated with higher relative levels of performance. The study found that the critical success factors were the international commitment of the founders, having an entrepreneurial and goal driven internal organisational behaviour, applying customer-driven product design, having unique and innovative products, engaging in continuous innovation, and targeting similar customer segments world-wide. Another major research objective was to identify factors influencing their distinctive early internationalisation in order to understand why small high technology start-ups are increasingly international in nature at or near inception. The study found that the most influential factors were the international vision of the founder(s), the desire to be an international market leader, the identification of a specific international opportunity and the international and competitive nature of the firm's industry. The findings of this thesis study have important implications for theory, practitioners and policy-makers. These implications are delineated in the thesis along with limitations of the study and suggested areas for future research.