Session Chairs: Elita Schillaci e Guido Bortoluzzi
The growth paths of start-up firms are seldom linear and more often tangled and unpredictable. Further, it is still not fully clear what determines the chances of survival and growth of new companies, despite this research theme having a long history in the managerial literature.
In recent years, both theoretical and empirical contributions in this area of research have proliferated. Over time, studies have focused more and more on single elements driving the growth of such firms, such as specific resources and capabilities, strategies, attitudes and behaviours, location advantages and sector and market dynamics. At the same time, the academic debate began dispersing into a plurality of rivulets which are less and less interconnected.
Although growth is a must for every new firm, we must consider that a significant number of firms do survive the first stages. However, not many start-ups that survive are subsequently able to grow, adopt a sustainable business model and generate satisfying financial performance.
Why this happens is not fully clear. Notwithstanding an abundance of contributions—both theoretical and empirical—on that theme, the literature still lacks consistent theories and sound empirical studies that could help to shed some light on the why some firms grow while others starve.
In particular, we feel the urgency to produce new knowledge on the growth triggers and drivers in an economic context characterized by frantic technological evolution, continuous changes in supply and consumption markets and deep changes in consumer behaviour. On the one hand, these changes may offer quite unique growth opportunities to start-ups. On the other hand, the changes could undermine their competitiveness and their ability to survive in the mid and in the long term.
The aim of our session is to promote a better comprehension of the impact that the evolution of the competitive environment is causing on the strategies and behaviours of start-up firms. This will improve understanding of how such behaviours impact their ability to survive and grow. To reach that aim, we invite scholars and practitioners to explore the following themes:
- Innovative growth paths for start-up firms
This track aims to explore the theme of new strategies and innovative growth paths. Under this theme, we include both the innovative deployment of classic growth strategies and the use of the most advanced strategic and organizational solutions. The track welcomes contributions related to start-ups and the following themes, amongst others: vertical integration, correlated diversification, uncorrelated diversification, market penetration, organic growth, M&A, strategic agility, organizational ambidexterity and corporate entrepreneurship.
- Performance measurement and sustainability
This track aims to deepen the theme of firm performance and its measurement. New metrics and new models may be needed in a competitive context, like the present one, that is characterized by very rapid market and technological changes.
Besides the theme of performance measurement, the track is also open to the theme of sustainability. By sustainability, we refer to something broader than simply economic and financial sustainability of the firm and, in particular, to environmental sustainability, social responsibility and ethical behaviour. This track welcomes contributions related to the following themes: firm performance and its measurement, balanced scorecard, ethical behaviour, corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability.
- Business model evolution
The track aims to deepen the theme of the appropriateness of a firm’s business model in a competitive context in rapid evolution. The track aims to go beyond a simple configurational (and merely descriptive) approach to the business model and to embrace a more dynamic perspective related to business model adaptation, innovation and evolution. The track welcomes contributions to the following themes: business model evolution, innovation of the business model, business model adaptation, disruptive business models and emerging business models.
4) Digital Darwinism and the evolution of low-tech sectors
Today’s competitive environment is characterized by an exponential increase in the speed of technological innovation and by increasing pervasiveness of enabling technologies in sectors once defined as “low tech”, such as agriculture and (part of) manufacturing. Digital technologies are deeply changing not only firms but also entire sectors. This change is creating a new competitive environment in which the traditional distinction between high and low tech will make less and less sense due to the increasing co-existence between the two dimensions. The aim of this track is to collect both new theoretical and empirical contributions that can help us in characterizing the magnitude of such changes both at the firm and sectorial levels. In particular, this track welcomes contributions related to the following themes: disruptive innovation, sectorial evolution, emerging strategies in traditional sectors (low-tech) and digitalization.
The best contributions may be submitted for publication in the following journals, following the usual submission procedures: R&D Management, Technovation, Management Decision, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Management and Governance, Economia & Management, Sinergie.