Entrepreneurial Behavior During Industry Emergence: An Unconventional Study of Discovery and Creation in the Early PC Industry

Entrepreneurial behavior is “risky business” under any condition, but especially during an industry’s formative years when there are few precedents for the kinds of activities in which enterprising actors want to engage (Sine, Haveman, & Tolbert, 2005). Nevertheless, entirely new industries emerge successfully, often as a direct result of human agency (Garud & Karnoe, 2003). Studies of entrepreneurial behavior have tended to concentrate on relatively mature industries where its dynamics may differ (Mezias & Kuperman, 2001), resulting in “the persistence of major gaps in our understanding” of the phenomenon (Forbes & Kirsch, 2011). This lack of studies on entrepreneurial behavior in emergent industries is a notable omission. Not only is entrepreneurial behavior an important research topic in its own right, but events and activities during this time also tend to have a profound impact on an industry’s subsequent development (Aldrich & Reuf, 2006). In our study, we begin to redress this research gap. We extend prior research and empirically apply discovery and creation perspectives to study entrepreneurial behavior during industry emergence through a narrative analysis of a 1999 made-for-TY film, Pirates of Silicon Valley (henceforth PS V), which documents the activities of a variety of actors involved in the emergence of the personal computer (PC) industry (Leonard, 1999). At present, the literature presents two perspectives-discover}7 and creation-that explicitly address the role of agency and action in entrepreneurship (Alvarez & Barney, 2007). For discover}7 theorists, alert actors identify hitherto unperceived discrepancies that can be readily rectified (Kirzner, 1997; Shane, 2003). For creation theorists, imaginative actors create new artifacts (Mathews, 2010; Sarasvathy, 2001). In metaphorical terms, discover}7 is about “searching the brushy woods for a choice of path,” while creation involves constructing new paths (FIjorth & Johannisson, 2008: 343). For the most part, these two theoretical perspectives have been considered opposed to each other in the prior literature. Despite the increasing popularity of discovery and creation approaches in entrepreneurship (Edelman & Yli-Renko, 2010; Vaghely & Julien, 2010), these two perspectives have not been explicitly used to provide insights into entrepreneurial behavior in emergent industry contexts (Bird & Schjoedt, 2009). We therefore apply these perspectives, with the goal of comparing and contrasting them to advance our understanding of entrepreneurial behavior under conditions of uncertainty and ambiguity (Alvarez & Barney, 2010).

Read More
X
X