Title: Entrepreneurial learning in Italian high-tech start-ups: an exploratory study

Authors: Alfredo De Massis; Tommaso Minola; Diego Viviani

Addresses: Centre for Young and Family Enterprise and Department of Economics and Technology Management, University of Bergamo, Viale G. Marconi 5, 24044, Dalmine BG, Italy. ' Centre for Young and Family Enterprise and Department of Economics and Technology Management, University of Bergamo, Viale G. Marconi 5, 24044, Dalmine BG, Italy. ' Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Via Lambruschini, 4/B, 20156, Milano, Italy

Abstract: Many academics agree with the opinion that small firms are more suitable than bigger ones to manage radical innovations. However, empirical observations show that about 60% of high-tech start-ups fail within six years, and this is found to be due to lack of learning. We analyse along which dimensions and how entrepreneurs learn in reaction to external stimuli triggered by the stakeholders, considering the effects of frame-oriented and experimental learning, contingent to external context. A multiple case study on five Italian high-tech start-ups has lastly been conducted, obtaining some useful results on the directions to pursue a successful learning.

Keywords: entrepreneurial learning; new technology-based firms; NTBFs; entrepreneurship; change; high-tech opportunities; Italy; high-tech start-ups; small and medium-sized enterprises; SMEs; radical innovations; business failures; entrepreneurs; external stimuli; stakeholders; frame-oriented learning; external contexts; Milan; experimental learning; innovation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIL.2012.044331

International Journal of Innovation and Learning, 2012 Vol.11 No.1, pp.94 - 114

Published online: 08 Dec 2011 *

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