Knowledge and expertise for high technology entrepreneurship : A tale of two sectors

Cooper, S.Y. (2006) Knowledge and expertise for high technology entrepreneurship : A tale of two sectors. International Journal of Knowledge Management Studies, 1 (1/2). pp. 59-78. ISSN 1743-8268 (

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The last three decades have witnessed fundamental structural changes in many western economies. Traditional sectors have seen dramatic reductions in manpower needs and large organisations have reorganised and rationalised. As in-house jobs have disappeared, opportunities for entrepreneurial, small firms to meet the outsourcing needs of growing numbers of organisations have increased dramatically. Agencies and government departments concerned with economic development and boosting levels of new firm formation are keen to encourage would-be entrepreneurs to establish ventures. While the provision of external support and the role of mentors through the venture creation process are valuable inputs into the process, the entrepreneur is arguably the most important resource. Understanding the role of the entrepreneur in the start-up process, and the knowledge and skills which he requires to perform his role effectively, will assist those seeking to enhance levels of new venture creation. This paper explores the sources and development of knowledge and skills in a group of 94 high-technology small firm founders in software and electronics. Marked differences are apparent in the background and experiences of entrepreneurs in the two sectors, as the founders have travelled contrasting routes to arrive at the entrepreneurial starting line. Findings are of significance for agencies supporting technology-based firm development and would-be entrepreneurs considering enterprise creation opportunities.