Business model change in early-stage university spin-offs
Business models are receiving increasing attention from practitioners and academics in entrepreneurship and management. However, few studies on business models follow the process of change in real time. This thesis explores the process of business model change in early-stage university spin-off firms, and how it impacts their performance. This thesis asks: (1) How does the process of business model change unfold in early-stage university spin-offs?, (2) How does business model change link to performance in early-stage university spin-offs?, and (3) How do business model elements change and interact over time in early-stage university spinoffs? Driven by the exploratory nature of the research questions, an inductive, longitudinal multiple-case study of 8 early-stage university spin-offs was adopted. These firms combine uncertainty with low market and business knowledge, thus performing several business model changes to survive. Data was collected over 12 months from documentation, archival data, and 98 longitudinal interviews with founders. I created case histories, tables, sequences of key business models events, and performed open and selective coding to the data. Within- and cross-case analyses were performed to reveal patterns and induce propositions. Various triangulation tactics were used to ensure consistency of information and high research quality. This thesis contributes mainly to the business model and university entrepreneurship literature with an identification of drivers and themes related to the process of business model change, and the introduction of the notions of realized and intended business models. It also generates a set of propositions relating business model change (aggregate and by element) and early-stage spin-off performance with: 1) commitment, market knowledge, managerial knowledge, and uncertainty, 2) technology scope and business scope, 3) relative frequency of causal and/or effectual behaviors (by using the effectuation theoretical framework), and 4) resource constraints (by using the resource-based view). Implications for entrepreneurs, managers, universities, policy makers, and business model educators are also discussed, as well as the limitations of the thesis and avenues for further research.