Title: An investigation into organisational democracy in new ventures

Authors: Beate Cesinger; Katherine Gundolf; Sascha Kraus

Addresses: New Design University, Mariazeller Straße 97a, A-3100 St. Pölten, Austria ' Montpellier Business School, MRM, 2300, Avenue des Moulins, F-34185 Montpellier, France ' University of Liechtenstein, Fürst-Franz-Josef-Strasse, FL-9490 Vaduz, Liechtenstein

Abstract: Organisational democracy resembles around structural and procedural aspects regarding decision-making, leadership, organisational structure and communication. Primarily, it is thought as an approach in which individual and organisational goals are balanced. Individuals primarily engage in entrepreneurial activity because of autonomy and flexibility; i.e., working in less mechanistic structures. Founders thereafter can create their organisational structure according to their individual values, goals and personality. Particularly in dynamic and more instable business environments organisational democracy appears to be a source of competitive advantage and positive performance. Our research question therefore asks: do entrepreneurs of new ventures follow principles of organisational democracy? Results from a comparative case-study among seven German high-tech start-ups reveal three distinct forms of ventures on the mechanistic-democratic continuum regarding leadership, decision-making, organisational structure and communication. This means that entrepreneurs do not necessarily impede democratic principles in their ventures but rather chose their strategic route in accordance with their self-perception as an entrepreneur, their growth aspirations and product/service offered.

Keywords: communication; decision making; entrepreneurship; leadership; organisational democracy; organisational structure; new ventures; Germany; high-tech start-ups; high technology; entrepreneurial self-perception; growth aspirations; product types; service types.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEV.2016.077618

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing, 2016 Vol.8 No.2, pp.196 - 216

Received: 31 Jul 2014
Accepted: 25 Sep 2014

Published online: 07 Jul 2016 *

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