Research Questions and Note on Methodology

This chapter reverts the typical focus of entrepreneurship research. Instead of focusing on the entrepreneur or the start up venture, it focuses on a particular technology and views start ups simply as organizational arrangements that transform and carry a focal technology through its innovation journey. Consequently, our data collection on the innovation process of a particular IR sensor technology is aimed firstly at obtaining data about:

— which were the organizational entities, or vessels, carrying and transforming this technology from its first appearance as a scientific idea and discovery until its emergence as a product.

We are further interested in what these organizational arrangements, and especially the two involved start up firms, have accomplished for this technology in terms of assembly and combination of social and technical resources (Baraldi et al., 2011; Hakansson & Waluszewski, 2002). Therefore, we collected data about this second type of elements:

— which resources and relationships emerged within and around the vessels propelling this technology during its innovation journey.

Our first rounds of data collection indicated that several vessels (organizational teams, projects and start ups) followed each other during this innovation journey, leading us to collect further data and formulate our research questions more explicitly as follows:

  • 1. Which, among the resources and relationships that vessels create and combine, are carried from one vessel to another?
  • 2. How are the resources and relationships carried over from one vessel to the next?

In order to analyze this innovation journey and the resources and relationships of the various vessels involved, we conducted a longitudinal in-depth case study. The first round of interviews with the main academic inventor (and also entrepreneur for both start ups) and the key industrial partner was conducted in 2014 and covered retrospectively the period of 1997-2014. Afterwards, the case study was performed as real-time study following the events as they unfolded (Halinen & Tornroos, 2005). A total of nine interviews were conducted, lasting between 40 and 90 minutes. The questions covered topics such as the initial setting of technology development, motivations to establish different vessels, pattern of business relationships surrounding the various vessels at different points in time, factors and dimensions that may have affected the technology development and vessels.

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