-up: the interplay between entrepreneurial and relational capabilities. Abstract

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Nov 12, 2013 (3 years and 4 months ago)

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1

Ecosystems’ start
-
up: the interplay between

entrepreneurial and relational capabilities
.




Abstract


This paper examines the issue of the entrepreneurial start
-
up and it
questions about the ability of catching and creation of opportunities
through exploi
tation/exploration strategies. The research, hence,
investigates whether
in an ecosystem the leading actor can be
the
entrepreneurial actor
for the whole system,
able
not only to catch but also
to create opportunities by exploiting
and valorizing the

resou
r
ces of
the
different actors
. Furthermore, the attention is focused on the
understanding of entrepreneurial capabilities that exploit strategic
resources and generate competitive advantage.

The interesting issue is to focus, more than on individual start u
ps, on
business districts themselves’ start ups. Within them, there is a network of
already existing firms and new ventures can be started. In this last case,
start
-
up issues develop at a double level: the district start up and the new
initiatives promoted

by the district

(both new firms and
-
or new inter
-
firm
ventures)
. The latter, besides, become also a signal of the district
successful performance.

Using the case study analysis

methodology
, the paper tries to
cover

some
unexplored points within the referr
ing entrepreneurship literature on start
-
up
s
.
The proposed case study of the “
District of high technology for
Cultural Heritage”

provides a conceptual and
empirical foundation
that
allows
to understand what should be the main capabilities within an eco
-
sys
tem in order to favor the creation of new business ventures that can
translate into successful start
-
ups.

This paper offers interesting both theoretical and empirical insights,
showing the way through which the entrepreneurial actor can be
an
accelerator i
n creating
strategic networks and business

district
s
.




1.
Introduction


The growing interest in entrepreneurial capabilities both in the firm’s
start
-
up and growth phases testifies how important the exploration and
exploitation of external opportunities

are.

As regards these latter issues, literature on entrepreneurship has focused
on the development or the growth stage rather than on firm’ start
-
up. This

2

is the reason why this paper aims at shedding light on what and how
entrepreneurial mecha
nisms interp
lay in the start
-
up, in a more complex
context made of a network of different firms, even if strategically led by a
main governing actor.

Through a literature review, the paper recalls the different approaches
underpinning the

entrepreneurship theory. Afte
r identifying the key
issues, the current research singles out the unexplored and not yet in
-
depth studied points concerning entrepreneurial new ventures.

If prior researches
(McMullen and Shepherd, 2006; Venkataraman, 1997)
have showed considerable eviden
ce for the discovering and creation of
opportunities and, hence, for the analysis of the component of
“exploration”, in this paper we focus the attention on network
relationships as expression of the ability to “exploit” existing resources in
the referrin
g ecosystem where the new organization is embedded.

In this direction, some scholars (Hoang and Antoncic, 2003) have
emphasized the importance of networks in the process of start
-
up both in
creation and in its development (Semrau and Sigmund, 2012).

These

theoretical reflections are inserted within a wider research path
since they find basis on the analysis of the case of “Databenc” (District of
high technology for Cultural Heritage) that is an example of start
-
up
where the ecosystem itself is a new
ventur
e.

Hence, the perspective of this
paper
can be considered

sufficiently
new since its focus is on the
ecosystem start
-
up rather than on the company one.

According to Zahra and Nambisan (2012, p. 220) “a business eco
system
is a group of companies


and othe
r entities including individuals, too,
perhaps



that interacts and shares a set of dependencies as it produces the
goods, technologies, and services customers need”.

This study is based on case study analysis

methodology
. The use of two
complementary meth
odologies allows to understand
the mechanisms at
the base of the creation of this district shaped by more

than 60 actors,
the
actors involved within this new venture and the relationship patterns
activated by the entrepreneurial subject. Findings show that

a very good
strategic planning has been

made for the eco
-
system start
-
u
p, with
clear
definitions of roles and relations within the network. The initiative will be
studied over time
, in order to study deeply the evolving process of
relationships.


2.
Conce
ptual framework and research
hypotheses


Extant literature on firm’s start
-
up has highlighted the link between
the
new established firms and the entrepreneurial capabilities (Huyghebaert

3

and Van De Gucht, 2004; Ferreira
et al
., 2012; Wu, 2007) even if ther
e
are some unexplored issues that this paper tries to deal with.

The research
combines the RBT approach with the entrepreneurship
theory, in order to better focus on the issue in a more dynamic
perspective.

The core of entrepreneurship literature (Drucker,

1985, 1988; Kirzner,
1973; Barreto, 1989; Julien, 1989; Lumpkin, 2007; Lumpkin and Dess,
1996) outlines the distinguishing features (skills, capabilities and
competence) of entrepreneurs and emphasizes the importance of
entrepreneurial capabilities.

In th
is light, a firm start
-
up is the expression of some entrepreneurial
capabilities, such as the catching or the creation of opportunities (Shook
et al.

2004;

Davidsson, 2005; Zahra
et al
., 2006, Alvarez and Barney,
2007;

Dutta and Crossan, 2005).

According t
o some scholars (Sirmon, Hitt and Ireland, 2007) in strategic
decision making a critical aspect is the process of singling out strategic
resources. This process, according to some scholars (Alvarez and
Alvarez, 2007; Teece, 2007), is the result of the depl
oyment of
entrepreneurial capabilities related to the creation or catching of
opportunities even in dynamic environments. This identification, if it is
expression of these capabilities, leads and generates acquisition of new
resources that can be possessed

or controlled within the firm or available
in the external forms of collaborations (Lavie, 2006).

The systematization is, indeed, an example of creation opportunities. It is
based on
the
development of a
network through the use of existing
resources
.

The
capability of catching opportunities refers to
perception of external
opportunities that are captured in order to acquire new resources and
competences. The behavior of opportunity seeking, extensively analyzed
in the entreprene
urship literature (Kizner, 1
973
), concerns seizing of
opportunities.

The capability of creating opportunity, as Teece (2007) underlines, is
linked to the vision of shaping the environment rather than a simple
adaptation to it and expresses
the real entrepreneurial nature since the
cr
eation of opportunities can be the result of an entrepreneurial insight.


The activities of navigating and scanning the external environment allows
to acquire new information and knowledge

(Schumpeter, 1934) and,
hence, to create new opportunities thanks t
o the high degree of

entrepreneur’s absorptive capacity. Furthermore, the creation of
opportunities consists in what
Sanyang and Huang (2010
, p.317)

conceptualize as the “
activities to convert ideas into economic

4

opportunities, that lie at the very heart o
f entrepreneurship.

If the catching and the creation of opportunities represent the DNA of the
entrepreneurship theory, it is also important to mention
the different
approaches to the study of entrepreneurship: first, some scholars (Dutta
and Crossan, 2005
; Buenstorf, 2007) recall the
Schumpeterian

view
(1934) that conceives the entrepreneur as an innovator who is able to
create new combinations of assets; second,
entrepreneurship researchers
(Antoncic and Hisrich, 2003) recognize the risk
-
taking as an
entr
epreneurial attitude that prevails on the typical behavior of “risk
avoiding”; third,
entrepreneurship scholars have recalled the concepts of
exploration and exploitation activities
, introduced by March in 1991, that
represent
the milestones of entrepreneu
rial activities (McMullen and
Shepherd, 2006; Venkataraman, 1997).

This paper overlaps these three approaches in order to offer a wider vision
of entrepreneurial start
-
up, mostly focusing on the issues of
exploration/exploitation of entrepreneurial start
-
u
p as we later explain.
The first one refers to the
concept of entrepreneur as a figure who drives
the innovation and leads to technological change or, according to other
authors (Todd
et al
., 2007), who is able to leverage information
technology.


The seco
nd is linked to the ability of risk
-
taking since the entrepreneurial
decisions
include risky solutions
(Covin and Slevin, 1986, 1989, 1991;
Miller, 1983) and this components play a key role in having a vision of
economic or other forms of advantage arising

from the risk
-
taking.

Exploration and exploitation opportunities are actually linked to the
above
-
mentioned issues of creation and catching of opportunities and,
according to some scholars, represent the milestones of entrepreneurial
activities (Renko
et
al
., 2012; McMullen and Shepherd, 2006;
Venkataraman, 1997).

While the search of new opportunities as well as of new knowledge,
resources and competences can be conferred to the exploration attitude,
the capitalization or
the
reco
mbination

of existing situ
ations, resources or
benefits belongs the sphere of the entrepreneurial exploitation behaviors.
In this process, however, it is clear that catching opportunities refers to
the sphere of exploration, while the creation activity can regard the
capability of
generating new ideas and knowledge on one side, but also be
referred to the capability of creation of opportunities through resource
recombining and use.

This underlines that

entrepreneurship implies
creative and innovative
efforts
by the entrepreneurial
actor due to
the evaluation of an uncertain
context and, consequently, to the ability
of

transform
ing

external
stimuli

5

into creative output
s
.

Entrepreneurial capability, indeed, produces new
opportunities connoted by innovative features. This creativity is

a process
enacted by the entrepreneur
“generating new ideas and approaches”

(Harryson, 2008 p. 295)
.

However, these assumptions need to be contextualized according the
stream of research concerning the start
-
up since the lead off of a new
venture has been

usually conceived by the referring entrepreneurship
literature (
Mata
et al
., 1995
) as the union between creation or catching of
opportunities and the entrepreneurial exploitation attitudes, creating a gap
in this stream of research.

This is the reason why

this paper
puts forward the following
research
hypothes
i
s:


Hp.
1
:
A

firm start
-
up
, when embedded in an ecosystem,

can create
opportunities through the exploitation of existing and already available
resources
, even when the ecosystem itself is a start
-
up.


If entrepreneurship scholars, indeed, have emphasized the coexistence of
exploration and exploitation strategies (Hitt
et al
., 2011; Ireland, Hitt and
Sirmon, 2003) without even referring to a specific phase of the business
chosen as unit of analysis (st
at
-
up rather than growth/development), the
stream of research concerning the start
-
up phase gives prevalence to
exploration behaviors on exploitation on
es, without even examining the
links between the creation/catching of opportunities and the exploitation

attitudes.

This study seeks to contribute to the entrepreneurship literature on start
-
up by explaining the importance of exploitation strategies in this phase,
balancing the ability of simultaneously explore the external context and
exploit available reso
urces (Tushman and O’Reilly, 1996), according to a
creative process
.


The exploration attitudes are linked to the so
-
called “opportunity
-

seeking” (Kirzner, 1973; Antoncic and Hisrich, 2003; Davidsson, 2005)
that can arise from an increase in available inf
ormation (Shumpterian
view) or from exploiting market inefficiencies (Kirzner, 1973), as
Gonzalez
-
Alvarez and Solis
-
Rodriguez (2011) underline.

The exploitation initiatives refer to the ability of “advantage
-
seeking”
(Sirén et al., 201
2
) through the levera
ge of existing resources. In the case
of a start
-
up, this exploitation activity is more difficult to observe due to
possible lack of a previous bundle of resources. There can however be a
creative process in resource combination that activates a positive p
rocess.


6

In this paper, we cite the concept of “ecosystem” (Zahra and Nambisan,
2012; Venkatraman, 1997) as a bridge between the start
-
up activity and
the exploitation of ecosystem relations. In this direction,
Zacharakis,
Shepherd and Coombs

(2003) claim t
hat “an ecosystem creates an
environment that encourages certain entrepreneurial endeavors”,
overturning the classical perspective where start
-
up and exploration
strategies constituted a binomial without chance in including the
exploitation perspective.

Th
is ecosystem is shaped by the set of different actors and entities (policy
makers, coordinating entities, group of firms, public and private bodies)
immersed in a specific geographic context.

The present study, instead, provides a comprehensive framework f
or the
analysis of entrepreneurial start
-
up that encompasses the issues of both
exploration and exploitation.

The introduction of the concept of “ecosystem” becomes crucial since the
exploitation initiatives can refer to the possibility of scanning and
exp
loiting ecosystem relations. The navigation of the ecosystem, in the
case of start
-
up, represents the path for the research of complementary
resources from ecosystem partners.

The synthesis of this reflections resides in what
Schumpeter (1934)
defines
“ca
rrying out new combinations” that underlines the
entrepreneurial capacity in
balancing the discover of opportunities with
the ability to exploit endogenous as well as exogenous resources in order
to develop new business opportunities (that involves creatio
n capability).

As suggested by Alvarez and Busenitz (2001, p. 771), RBT is a “
very
helpful exploration tool for probing and better understanding
entrepreneurship related phenomena”.

Resource
-
based theory (
Penrose, 1959; Barney, 1991
) helps
understanding w
hat are the firm’s strategic resources and competences in
order to activate the start
-
up. Although the bundle of resources of this
start
-
up can or cannot be conspicuous, depending on the firm’s history,
there are entrepreneurial resources such as “entrepre
neurial alertness,
insight, entrepreneurial knowledge, and the ability to coordinate
resources” (
Alvarez and Busenitz, 2001), whether valuable, rare, difficult
to imitate or substitute and exploited by the organization (Barney,
1991
)
generate competitive a
dvantage. In the case of start
-
up, these resources
help exploring new opportunities or exploiting network resources through
the activation of ecosystem relations. More precisely, according to the
RBT logic, some entrepreneurial capabilities and competences

such
a
s the
insight, the creation or catching of opportunities, the ability in
coordinating and combine resources


can be considered strategic

7

resources themselves since they are able to create competitive advantage
per se
(Della Corte, 2004).

In particu
lar, strategic entrepreneurship literature has identified some
entrepreneurial resources and capabilities

that
,
when

valuable, rare, costly
to imitate and exploited
in organizational terms
, can lead to competitive
advantage.

For the purpose of this paper,

we identified some entrepreneurial
resources and competence
s

able to catch and/or create opportunities.
More precisely, these are:


1.

the entrepreneurial decision
making capabilities
(
Alvarez and
Busenitz 2001) and
insight
(Kirzner, 1997;
Alvarez and Buseni
tz
2001
) more linked to the concept of “alertness”
,

conceived as
a
composed ability shaped
in

two components. The first consists
of

perceiving where new opportunities exist while the second refers
to the ability in bringing out these opportunities.



2.


the
cognitive ability
” of entrepreneurs to simplify even complex
and uncertain contexts (
heuristics



Della Corte, 2004, cap. 2) as
well as to

frame situations in an opportunistic manner”
, that is a

strategic resource useful
to organize the other assets (
Alvar
ez and
Busenitz 2001, p. 759);


3.

the ability to “form an alliance with the owners of these resources
to gain access” (Alvarez and Barney, 2007, p. 1058);


From these reflections the following research
hypothesis

spring
s

out:


Hp
2
:
The entrepreneurial
decisi
on and insight, the cognitive ability and
the capability to form an alliance
are entrepreneurial resources and
competences

able to create opportunities through
exploration/exploitation
behaviors.


At this point, recalling social capital is even more import
ant since the
social relations among stakeholders network are able to create social
capital (
Burt, 1992
), influencing the result of collaboration. This so
-
called
“social capital” is no more than a set of social resources embedded in
relationships (Burt, 19
92). According to some authors (Coleman, 1990;
Burt, 1992), indeed, the social
capital perspective conceives the
relationships as source of vale creation within a social structure where
its

8

members share goals, projects or long
-
term aims

and the key strate
gic
network resources are identified.


The social relations, established by firms within the network, help in
understanding the resources, capabilities and competence able to create
network value but also the resources that an organization owns by virtue
o
f being a member of

the network (Koc
-
Menard, 2009;
Adler and Kwon,
2002). This assumption recalls the relational
-
based view (Dyer and Hatch,
2006; Dyer and Singh, 1998) since “the concept of relational assets is
derived from a social capital viewpoint” (Ch
ou and
Chow
, 2009).

The relational capital (Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998) of the entrepreneur
refers both to the nature and the assets of relationship.
This kind of capital
allows to activate strategic relations as well as to spread a
cooperative
atmospher
e among the
actors of the network.



Fig. 1


Theoretical framework




Source: Our Elaboration.


The entrepreneurial activity, in this paper, is the process of catching and
creating opportunities through resources exploration and exploitation that

9

generat
e
value
for the new venture.


3.
Methodology and data collection


The main objectives of this research are to verify if
a firm start
-
up can
create opportunities through the exploitation of existing and,
consequently, understand
what are entrepreneurial res
ources and
competences able to do that.

In order to explore these issues,
this research overlaps an in
-
depth case
study analysis (
Eisenhardt, 1989
; Yin, 2003)
.

The case study analysis, useful to investigate contemporary phenomenon
in depth, especially when

the boundaries between phenomenon and
context are not clearly evident" (Yin, 2009), allows to adopt an
exploratory/explanatory approach for the study of Databenc in order to
understand the mechanisms underpinning the creation of this district

and
collect
the main qualitative

results in the light of research hypotheses.

Since that t
he unit of analysis (Yin, 2003) is the district in its whole,
shaped by different actors
, this methodology offers the way through
which it is possible to study

the actors involve
d within this new venture
and what has been the entrepreneurial approaches in terms of
creation/discover of opportunities.

Since Databenc is in its
early start
-
up

phase, the research group

conducted

the analysis

through a
number of
panel
s

of experts,
since

relations are
developing over time
.
More precisely, the data

This methodology, indeed, allows to understand if ecosystem relation
s

have been really exploited by

entrepreneur
s and in what terms for each of
them
.

Indeed, the selected case reflects the crea
tion/discover of opportunities
enacted by the entrepreneurial subject as underlined in the theoretical
background.

Data were collected from different sources such as face
-
to
-
face
interviews, focus group discussion, annual report
, feasibility studies,
other

secondary
sources and direct observations.

Respondents were identified
through
the study of district composition.

As regards interviews, these were semi
-
structured following the case
study protocol (Gibbert
et al.
, 2008; Yin, 2003) and are based on the
th
eoretical framework sprang out from the literature
excursus
. With
reference to the focus group method, the aim was to validate the emerged
findings as well as to strengthen them.




10

4. The case of “Databenc”


The District of high technology for Cultural Her
itage (DATABENC)
originates from the willingness Federico II University.

This university,
indeed, can be defined as accelerator

in creating an advanced cultural
district in order to bridge the existing gaps in Campania Region’ strategic
management approach

of both cultural and environmental heritage in its
interconnections with tourism industry.

This district is born within the National Operative Program (PON 2007
-
2013) called “Research and Competitivity” referring to the line of
intervention n.2 “Districts

of high technology and related networks” to
whom the feasibility study of DATABENC is linked.

An in
-
depth analysis of this study allows to understand the
entrepreneurial issues of insight and foresight in sensing opportunities
(Teece, 2007), both in terms

of exploration and exploitation (Za
h
ra
et al
.,
2006), scanning the external environment in the start
-
up phase and, hence,
in navigating the ecosystem (Zahra and Nambisan, 2012). The output of
DATABENC, that is in its start
-
up phase, is to develop new vent
ures to
build a system of both promotion and fruition of cultural resources, able
to valorize local identity, productions, services, through an intense
network of strategic actors, called to strategizing and operationalizing
together.

If the creation of th
is start
-
up due to the catching of opportunities coming
from the earmarked financing by National Operative Program, it is
important to understand how the building of a

relational network can be
expression of entrepreneurial capabilities in order to create
an integrated
system of cultural heritage. In this district, indeed, various types of
relations (scientific, economic, technological, social) must live together
since there are different areas of interest, in terms of activities, to smother
with specific c
ompetences belonging to both public and private actors.
The activation of collaborations for the fulfillment of the district activities
have required from the entrepreneurial actor the deployment of
capabilities that have highlighted the entrepreneurial vi
sion in
forecasting
of
future scenario in terms of anticipation of future demand’s needs and,
consequently, bringing innovativeness of cultural heritage product.

The ability of discovering and creating opportunities at the same time,
emphasized by some ent
repreneurship scholars (
Alvarez, Barney,
Anderson, 2012), is showed in the case of Databenc through the task of
the identification of district activities, of scanning the ecosystem and,
consequently, the understanding of the actors to be involved.

As rega
rds the field of interest of this district, the entrepreneurial subject

11

identified
four

thematic areas (Databenc, 2011)

within
archaeological

areas,

documentation and archiving and Smart historic centre (Fig.
2
):


1.

Knowledge
: under this voice, it is include
d the knowledge about
the cultural products within Databenc district in terms of their
history, contents and technical characteristics such us used
materials and techniques of construction.

2.

Preservation
: this mostly refers to the logic of preventive
pres
ervation rather than curative one. In this sense, the district
activities contemplate a planned maintenance that is less invasive
of the restoration. Both preservation and restoration are linked to
the transversal activity of constant monitoring.

3.

Security

and safety
: these concern the identification and
realization of measures towards possible risks that cultural
heritage could be subjected to. While the security refers to
intentional causes, the safety concerns motivations that are not
directly intentiona
l (i.e., environmental risks, transportation of
cultural products for exhibitions out of the museum, etc.).

4.

Valorisation, fruition and promotion
: these two terms, in
entrepreneurial terms, are conceived as unique expression since
the valorisation of cultur
al resources allows to give a unique
fruition both for tourists and local community where the use of
specific technologies helps intensifying the degree of
involvement, offering a unique experience during the fruition
phase.

Fig.
2


Databenc and its thema
tic areas



Source: Databenc, 2013.


12


DATABENC develops these thematic areas on three lines of action:
integrated knowledge

(CON
-
DAT)
, diagnostic monitoring

(TEC
-
DAT)

and sustainable fruition

(VAL
-
DAT)
.

If this start
-
up has been originated, on one side, fr
om the deployment of
entrepreneurial exploration attitudes, on the other it is important to recall
how the exploitation component, not so much mentioned in the start
-
up
literature, played a crucial role for the creation and the development of the
start
-
up
itself.

In particular, the exploitation strategy is based on the capabilities to
combine and leverage existing resources and distinctive competences of
the actors involved in the ecosystem. In this direction, the fusion between
exploration and exploitation

takes place when the exploitation of network
resources through the power of relational mechanisms joins the
capabilities to generate changes.

This mentioned balance between exploration and exploitation components
occurred when the entrepreneurial actor sc
anned the referring ecosystem
on the base of the district activities and the related required competences.

Fig.
4

-

The involved actors and entities



Source: Databenc, 2013.


13

More specifically, more than 60 actors and entities (
Fig. 4
-

46 SMEs, 4
big co
mpanies, 9 research centers, 4 Universities) have been involved
and, in this way, Databenc represents an example of start
-
up where the
ecosystem itself is a new venture, as showed in Fig.
5.

Once identified the composition of the district, in terms of acto
rs and
related activities, it is important to understand if and how entrepreneurial
capabiliti
es work for the development of
this start
-
up. The evolved
network of Databenc, shaped by private and public bodies, considers the
connection between actors ‘compe
tences and the related, so identifying
production and service chains of this district (Fig.
5
).


Fig.
5


The configuration of the evolved district




Source: Databenc, 2012.



The current configuration of this District of high technology for Cultural
Her
itage is the result of a collaborative process generating a network

14

structure and shaping an integrated cultural heritage system.
DATABENC is in fact a local operator of differentiated cultural offers,
playing a pivotal role in the process of building bran
d identity (Databenc
Feasibility Study, 2011).

The other opportunity can be referred to the fact that heritage and culture
are still conceived and managed in a traditional, out of date approach,
mainly focused on preservation rather than on valorization, p
romotion
and fruition.

If the entrepreneurship refers to the identification, discovering, pursuing
of market opportunities as well as to the capabilities of
organizing/coordinating this captured opportunities (Irela
n
d
et al
., 2003),
it is important to unde
rstand whether and how Databenc sets in this
discourse, considering its phase of start up.

As regards opportunities’ catching, with the Decree

n.

713/Ric of the 29th
of October 2010, the Italian Ministry of Instruction, University and
Research (MIUR) emana
ted an announcement related to the creation of
public
-
private Districts and Aggregations. It is exactly in this scenario
that the University Federico II presented a feasibility study for the
creation of a district of high technology that highlighted the li
nes of
action, the systematization among different sectors and, hence, the set up
of a network shaped by public and private bodies.

As previously underlined, the activities of catching and creation, in this
paper, are viewed as two distinct behaviors enact
ed by the entrepreneurial
issue. Hence, the creation of Databenc undergirds the exploiting of
already available resources and competences. The localization of the
latters within the ecosystem has constituted the crucial node for the
entrepreneur actor who
has been able to exploit them through the
establishment of relations, expression of complementary resource
endowments, necessary for the foundation and the settling of this district.

The name “District of high technology for Cultural Heritage” is itself
be
arer and demonstration of the required specific component. The high
technology, indeed, joins the cultural heritage and
vice versa
, framing
different production and service chains (see Fig.
5
) that interact for the
growth of the district as well as the app
ropriation of value coming from
the network.

From these assertions, it is possible to state that Databenc or better the
entrepreneurial actor represented by the University Federico II was able
to create opportunities trough the exploitation of existing eco
system’s
resources and competences wh
ether it was just a new venture, confirming
the first research hypothesis.

Once clarified

that the bond between creation and exploitation can be

15

realized also in the start up
-
phase, it is useful to understand what are
r
esources and competences are deployed for the creation of the district.

Following Alvarez and Busenitz (2001) and
Kirzner (1997), this paper
tries to understand if

the entrepreneurial insight and decision

making
, the
cognitive ability and the capability to

form alliance
s

can be considered

entreprene
urial resources and competences able to generate competitive
advantage.

As regards the
“fl
ashes of superior insight

(Kirzner, 1997)
, the
University of Naples Federico II had the ability to recognize the
opportun
ity and
its

related potential value
.
This insight led to the decision
of the creation of the district, thanks to the National Decree that
considered the choices between
two actions:

the first was “Technological
districts and related networks” and the seco
nd “Public
-
private lab and
related networks”. In front of the choice
between

two lines, the
entrepreneur demonstrated a high degree of cognitive action,
understanding the
potentiality of the district, what could be the missing
link with the technological c
omponent, the line of actions

to undertake
,
and the possible
strategic and
economic implications for the involved
actors.

From here, the University Federico II had the decision to create
Databenc in order to use the technology for the preservation and
the
valorization of the cultural heritage of the city of Naples.

Furthermore, the district
,

as socio
-
territorial

identity
,

characterized by an
active
pull of actors and firms (Beccatini, 1989)
, needs

capabilities able to
form alliance
s even

for its creation
.

In this way, the identified entrepreneurial actor has deployed the predicted
entrepreneurial resources and capabilities in the research hypothesis 2.

It is useful to consider not only
the entrepreneurial recognition and the
ability in coordinating and org
anizing the acquired resources (Alvarez and
Busenitz, 2001) that belongs to the entrepreneurial subject
but also

the
resource and competences of the actors and the entities of the ecosystem
reflect the soul of the single organization and, hence, make them
available
for the operations, the activities and the lines of intervention of the
district.


5.
Findings and
c
onclusions


Literature on entrepreneurial start
-
up does not take into account the link
between creation of opportunities and exploitation strategi
es as well us
does not clear distinguish the stage of the new venture, either creation or
development since each phase is connoted by peculiarities in terms of
deployed entrepreneurial capabilities.


16

Starting from the idea that also a new venture can create

opportunities
through the exploitation of available resources and competences and
sharing the macro distinction between start
-
up creation and development,
this paper deals with the issue of the binomial creation of opportunities
and exploitation as well a
s it focuses its attention on the early stage since,
in this stage, it is more than ever difficult to carry out exploitation
behaviors.

The effort of this research was exactly to find a point of connection that
cou
ld combine this research issues.

Among di
fferent examined contributions on the new venture, the recent
article of
Semrau and Sigmund (2012) on the new venture has highlighted
that the entrepreneurial success is “the network in which the new venture
is embedded”.

From the overlap of these assumpti
ons, this paper has traced a theoretical
framework that encompasses literature on entrepreneurship mainly
focused on the interrogative of catching/creation of opportunities linked
to the exploration and exploitation strategies, the resource
-
based theory in

order to understand the entrepreneurial resources and competences, the
resources and competences of the actors of the ecosystem as well as their
interconnections for the for the start
-
up creation. Furthermore, the recall
to the relational view has acted a
s binding for the above
-
mentioned
interconnections since only through the exploitation of network relations,
it is possible to create value for the actors involved and for the network
itself.

In support to these assumptions, the case of the District of hig
h
technology for Cultural Heritage was analyzed. The analysis of this
district, indeed, showed how the complexity of the entrepreneurial
ecosystem joined the specificities of the cultural district in terms of
management and governance structure. Here the e
cosystem played a
crucial role for the creation of the start
-
up itself. Moreover, the case study
allowed to identify the entrepreneurial distinctive features of the
University Federico II of Naples created the start
-
up thanks to the
exploitation of ecosyst
em relations and the ability in coordinating and
organizing the acquired strategic resources. These entrepreneurial
capabilities

(entrepreneurial insight and decision, the cognitive ability and
the capability to form an alliance)

have been confirmed in the

stages of
both ex
-
ante and post start
-
up, developing this district according to an
innovative length that is linked to
.

Furthermore, from this study an interesting finding comes out. The
University Federico II is the
pivotal
actor of the ecosystem

that,
t
hanks its
observed
ability in forming alliances (
Alvarez and Barney, 2007), is

17

inclined to surround itself of other
sub
-
pivotal
actors (referring to the 60
entities of the district), both for their specific competences and the
ir

relational ability able to
exploit their personal bundle of social relations in
order to attract new potential entrants into Databenc. In this way, it is
possible to observe one central and
one
peripheral n
ucleus where the first
capitalizes or recombines existing resources
,

catches
and creates
opportunities.

This assumption is conceived according to a Schumpeterian vision
(1934), empathizing the innovativeness and the creativity as
entrepreneurial traits.

To summarize, in this study
there are significant advances in reinforcing
cont
ributions on start
-
up
’s processes and resources/capabilities, shedding
light on the possible advances in entrepreneurship theory.


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