INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATION IN A START-UP
College of Business Administration
Suwon, Korea 441-749
Joan F. Vesper
Karl H. Vesper
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
The content of 106 faxes and letters exchanged between founders of a Canadianinternational start up and their intermediary in Korea between 1991-1993 was studied.Six major topics were identified. These were, in order of frequency: logistics,products, personal matters, current developments, plans/dreams, and formalagreements. Three issues in this international start-up were identified: the role of theintermediary, the sequence and pace of activities, and the effective use of fax.
Correspondence comprised of 106 faxes and letters exchanged during two yearsbetween the founders of a Canadian start-up and their intermediary in Korea wasexamined. Follow-up interviews were held between co-authors and the principalcorrespondents. Main topics were identified through analysis of the correspondence.Patterns were identified through frequency counts of topics discussed during four-month time periods. Issues were identified through analysis of the content of thecorrespondence and subjective judgment about what underlying questions seemedimportant to these correspondents and possibly to other people trying to launch aninternational start-up.
The topics of discussion in this start-ups were largely about day-to-day activities suchas arranging trips and testing products. Patterns in the timing and frequency of topicsand issues reflected the drama of actual events. At some stages the correspondencerevealed disagreement on issues and great personal strains between thecorrespondents. The study confirmed earlier studies of intentional entrepreneurshipregarding attempts at marketing on a broad front, the informal recruitment of talent,the large time cost of the export function, and the importance of knowing aboutanother culture in order to do business within it. Compared to entrepreneurs insome earlier studies, these international entrepreneurs gave less emphasis to strategicplans, products, and face-to-face communication, and they did not see internationaltravel as exacting a high personal cost.
The faxes and letters exchanged among people launching an international start-upoffer these lessons to others embarking on the process: Know your intermediary.Agree on priorities and sequence. Follow a few mechanical rules to use faxefficiently. Unresolved questions in this study include how to launch a firmsuccessfully in more than one country simultaneously and how to balance the need tobuild trust in another country gradually with the need to raise cash immediately
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