INTERNATIONAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP WITHIN OFFSHORE RENEWABLE ENERGY
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The climate is changing, the world’s known fossil energy reserves are limited, and most economies are struggling to get out of a financial crisis. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calls for new technologies, rapid commercialization, and rapid international diffusion as important tools to mitigate the climate change (IPCC 2007). Nations all over the world have allocated large funds to facilitate the development of renewable energy technologies and markets to secure the future supply of energy and to sustain economic growth (REN21 2009). Use of fossil fuel is the main source of humans’ contribution to global warming. At the same time, fossil fuel is probably the most important resource for economic development on a global scale (IEA 2009). With this as a backdrop, the objective of this PhD thesis is to investigate how technology-based companies act to commercialize and internationally diffuse technologies that may produce abundant clean, renewable energy. More specifically, I have assessed the emerging offshore renewable energy industries (offshore wind, wave, and tidal energy) as case industries to make the International Entrepreneurship literature more relevant for the current situation. The findings reveal extensive international activities at both the company level and industry level, even in phases in which the firms have yet to commercialize and industries have yet to enter the growth phase. These findings demand significant updates to theoretical models and convey several recommendations to mangers, investors, and policy makers. Managers should be aware of and master the new opportunities/threats identified. For investors, the findings provide implications for their valuation of new ventures. For policy makers, the findings open up a new landscape of political threats and opportunities as the battle to attract promising industries has begun earlier than previously prescribed. Four research questions have resulted in four papers that constitute the core of this dissertation: PAPER 1: TO WHAT EXTENT DO COMPANIES WITHIN THE OFFSHORE RENEWABLE ENERGY INDUSTRY USE INTERNATIONALIZATION AS A STRATEGY TO OVERCOME INDUSTRIAL BARRIERS? “Need for capital” and “need for supportive political schemes” were identified as the most critical industry barriers. The data supported our propositions; companies in the marine energy industry use internationalization as a strategy to overcome the identified barriers. The findings in this paper reveal a potential conflict between the objectives of national policies and entrepreneurs: The nation wants to assure a “home market” on as broad a basis as possible, whereas entrepreneurs are interested in “selecting” the best support systems based on their current and future needs. PAPER 2: WHICH FACTORS FACILITATE EARLY INTERNATIONALIZATION OF NEW VENTURES WITHIN OFFSHORE RENEWABLE ENERGY? We identify a number of factors at the entrepreneur, company, and industry levels that facilitate early internationalization. At the entrepreneur level, we find that the management team’s previous experience and current network are the main factors. At the company level, we find internationalization to be caused by the complex relation between an attraction to opportunities and as an act of survival in a competitive landscape. At the industry level, we find that internationalization is facilitated by heterogeneity in national support schemes, standardized end products, and the fact that climate change and the need for new energy sources are global. PAPER 3: HOW DO INTERNATIONAL ACCESS AND USE OF RESOURCES IN PHASES BEFORE THE FIRST COMMERCIAL INTERNATIONAL SALE INFLUENCE THE SUBSEQUENT INTERNATIONAL SALE? We find that resources connected to national policy, regulations, infrastructure, and institutions are decisive for the early internationalization in the industries we investigate. These resources are immobile; thereby, heterogeneity in these scarce resources facilitates international activities at the company level. Our findings also suggest that access to valuable immobile resources in a foreign country leads to easier access to other resources in the foreign country and even in the country of origin. There is an overlap between international activities related to resources and international sales and marketing activities. Seen from the perspective of investors, the overlapping phase can be regarded as either a market for precommercial technology or a market for future options. Seen from the perspective of the start-up, the activities in the overlapping phase may be regarded as part resource access and part sale. PAPER 4: WHAT CHARACTERIZES A BORN GLOBAL INDUSTRY? We find evidence suggesting that industries might arise as Born Global Industries (BGI), i.e., as industries with global integrated operations in the introduction phase of their life cycle. These findings are not in line with prevailing international business theories. Thus, we develop the concept of Born Global Industries and establish 10 propositions on the factors that characterize these types of industries. The methodical approach has been to triangulate quantitative data with qualitative data. A worldwide survey among all of the companies in the world that develop concepts for wave and/or tidal energy provided the quantitative data. Qualitative data was gathered through interviews, Internet searches, and archives from all three industries. Accessing data from emerging companies in emerging industries is challenging, but such data provide a unique opportunity to study ongoing processes that are the core of the intertwined climate–energy–economy situation that our society will have to overcome. Our overall findings reveal start-ups as an important source of technological innovations for the renewable energy industries. Further, early internationalizing at the company and industry levels serves an important role in battling the global climate and energy challenges through rapid dissemination of technologies to harness clean energy sources.