Idea Generation

Case Aims: To describe the idea-generation behaviour exhibited by technological entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs have a base of domain knowledge essential to performing creative transformational processes that lead to creative generation of new ideas (Shane 2003). Knowledge is a key to creative entrepreneurial actions such as opportunity recognition and knowledge asymmetry, which can result in different entrepreneurs in the same environment coming up with radically different ideas. Gemmell et al. (2011), researching the ideation process exhibited by entrepreneurs, interviewed founders and/or senior executives in a number of American technology start-up businesses.

The researchers concluded that technology entrepreneurs utilise a variety of behaviours, techniques and thought processes to develop, refine and validate creative ideas, as well as filtering them based on perceived usefulness. They identified three key ideational processes: (1) utilising complex



and sophisticated social networks as sources of ideas and testing, refining and validating trial ideas; (2) exhibiting domain specificity by filtering ideas outside specific markets and technologies; and (3) actively experimenting and iterating ideas rather than engaging in protracted conceptual analysis.

Other findings from the study included:

  • 1. Technology entrepreneurs rely heavily on the strength of their strongest personal ties.
  • 2. Technology entrepreneurs generate many ideas in a variety of domains; however, they almost exclusively pursue ideas within their core domain.
  • 3. Technology entrepreneurs move quickly from research and conceptual analysis into an active experiment to concretely validate and develop important ideas.
  • 4. Technology entrepreneurs engage in creative ideation in many domains, including domains outside their recognised area of domain expertise.
  • 5. Technology entrepreneurs exhibit a cognitive style that emphasises action, experimentation and a high level of flexibility in their thinking throughout the entire ideation cycle.
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