By Massimo G. Colombo, Department of Management, Economics, and Industrial Engineering Politecnico di Milano, Italy, firstname.lastname@example.org | Cristina Rossi-Lamastra, Department of Management, Economics, and Industrial Engineering Politecnico di Milano, Italy | Beatrice Matassini, Department of Management, Economics, and Industrial Engineering Politecnico di Milano, Italy
The majority of the theoretical and empirical work in the field of organizational design has focused on large established companies, disregarding entrepreneurial ventures, although the organization of these firms is of paramount importance to their functioning and performance. This monograph aims to fill this gap by taking stock of extant knowledge and suggesting future research on the organizational design of hightech entrepreneurial ventures. To this end, we take the following steps. First, we illustrate how the fact that high-tech entrepreneurial ventures operate in high-velocity environments and base their competitive advantage on human capital influences their organizational design. Second, we briefly sketch the theories that we deem most pertinent to the study of the organizational design of high-tech entrepreneurial ventures. Third, we review the handful of studies that have examined the main structural elements (that is, hierarchy, delegation decision of authority, specialization, and formalization) and human resource management practices of high-tech entrepreneurial ventures. Finally, we acknowledge that these firms are heterogeneous across some relevant dimensions: the appropriability regime they face, the business models they adopt, and the identities of the entrepreneurial team's members. Accordingly, we discuss how the organizational design of high-tech entrepreneurial ventures varies depending on aforementioned dimensions.
The Organizational Design of High-Tech Entrepreneurial Ventures addresses the organizational design of entrepreneurial ventures. While many definitions of organizational design exist, we consider it as consisting of two main dimensions – the organizational structure of the firm and the human resource management practices. The authors focus on entrepreneurial ventures operating in high-tech industries because these firms have characteristics that generate salient organizational challenges and require appropriate design choices. First, high-tech entrepreneurial ventures operate in high-velocity environments where rapid changes require decision-makers to timely process a large amount of information and cope with uncertainty. Moreover, most hightech entrepreneurial ventures are founded by teams of high-skilled individuals, who, in turn, hire highly skilled employees. The human capital of founders and key employees, as reflected in their education and work experience, is the main source of competitive advantage for these firms but creates major organizational challenges.
After the initial introduction, Section 2 illustrates the general contextual characteristics of hightech entrepreneurial ventures that pose organizational design challenges different from those of both incumbent firms and low-tech ventures. Next, the authors present the state of the art on the main dimensions of high-tech entrepreneurial ventures' organizational design. Section 3, in particular, focuses on the relevant elements of organizational structure while in Section 4, the literature on human resource management practices is reviewed. Section 5 moves from the premise that high-tech entrepreneurial ventures are heterogeneous across several dimensions and highlights prominent factors that shape their organizational design. Section 6 concludes by summarizing its main points and suggesting directions for future research.