Digital entrepreneurship: review, trajectory and practice
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 23:31 authored by Hasnain Zaheer
Digital start-ups have fundamentally transformed many industries and markets by digitising consumer routines and business services. Digital technologies, related business model innovations and mainstream use of digital applications have developed at a momentous and unrelenting speed. As a result, digital start-ups remain at the forefront of an ongoing global entrepreneurial movement. However, knowledge about digital start-ups is often fragmented across multiple academic disciplines and practice literature. Connections with existing entrepreneurship research perspectives remain tentative, research themes are yet to be fully developed, and the sub-contexts in which digital start-ups operate, remain to be identified more clearly. Claims that the characteristics of digital technologies impart uniqueness to the entrepreneurial process of digital start-ups remain to be comprehensively examined. Therefore, much remains to be understood about the digital entrepreneurial process, both at the firm level of new venture creation and the individual level of digital start-up founders. This thesis is based on four research papers that address the current needs in digital entrepreneurship research. The first two papers provide a review of the overall field of study - entrepreneurship, and the particular field of interest - digital entrepreneurship. Paper 1 anchors this project to some contemporary perspectives of entrepreneurship research by providing an integrative review of entrepreneurship research, with a focus on entrepreneurial process. 115 publications from the latest decade (2009-2019) are classified and synthesised to identify a spectrum of perspectives in five aggregate dimensions. Paper 2 consolidates digital entrepreneurship research by providing a multi- and interdisciplinary critical review of digital entrepreneurship literature comprising 133 publications. The paper distils key definitions, identifies sub-contexts and supplies a narrative of the field's stages of development. The paper further critiques and identifies the focus in research methodologies, contexts and entrepreneurship theory dimensions. A future research agenda of digital entrepreneurship is developed and used to map the field's trajectory. The remaining two papers present the findings of an exploratory multiple case study of the practice of 50 Australian digital start-up founders. Paper 3 proposes a stage-based 'Digital Entrepreneurial Journey' framework that explains why founders embark on entrepreneurial journeys involving digital technologies and the milestones of their long-term engagement with the field. This paper contributes a data-grounded understanding of digital start-up founders' motivation, behaviour and actions. Paper 4 studies the new venture creation process in digital start-ups. This study takes the narrower scope and level of a single new venture creation. A stage-based 'digital entrepreneurial process' framework is proposed, interwoven with an analysis of entrepreneurial decision-making logics underpinning the decisions and actions in each of the proposed process stages. This thesis makes an important contribution by consolidating digital entrepreneurship research and proposing links with the existing theoretical foundations, and particularly by discovering novel insights into why and how digital technologies implicate unique entrepreneurial processes and behaviours. In policy and practice, this study paves the path for improving mentoring and support programs targeting founders, and providing them with better entrepreneurial methods, training and education in new venture creations -- abstract.