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DISCUSSION

We highlight here four themes that run through the case studies, acknowledging that there are a multitude of insights that you the reader could (and hopefully will!) add to our analysis.

1. Resources do come in bundles; this concept suggested by RBT was demonstrated in each case study. Importantly, in many cases the resources in each constellation are related to each other. For example, in WebDesign's DCP1 [Exhibit 3, Phase 1] Sales activities are increased through hiring of sales Personnel, and through the Technological development of their web site, which represents the quality of work they are attempting to sell. In some measure Relationship development with VC's requires getting initial Sales, and demonstrating Technological development, while increasing Sales is based on the hope that one of the relationships will result in more VC funding.

Exhibit 5
Resource Changes and Perceived Importance at AgencyInc. (9/9/96 -> 1/20/97)

Resource Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4
Sales and Servicing Activities +++ ~ ++ ++
Expand the Book of Business + +++ ~ +
Information Systems support + ++ +++ ~
Core Relationships + + ~ +++
Reputation Leveraging Sales/Service Leveraging    
Book of Bus. Leveraging      
Support sys't Leveraging      
Core rel'ships        

Another important recognition is the uniqueness of each of the resource configurations-in this set of companies virtually none of sets of resources were the same. That is, according to many researchers these companies would be said to belong to a single category of small new ventures, yet each one had a very different bundle of organiztaional resources, and even within these companies the bundles shifted several times within a 6 month period. What stands out in this analysis is how unique are the configurations of organizational resources, both within and between phases of these new ventures.

2. Resource bundles do change over time, as our analysis revealed unambiguously. These differences in these shifts can be usefully compared to a key distinction in the organizational change literature. There, incremental, first order change is distinguished from radical, second-order change (e.g. Griener, 1972; Tushman & Romanelli, 1985; Van de Ven & Poole, 1995). Applying that distinction in this paper generates a proposition, that first order shifts between data collection phases would result in no changes to resources, whereas second-order shifts would result in major changes in resources. This proposition was verified by counting the number of different resources in each DCP and comparing it to the total possible changes that could occur after moderate or major shifts punctuate data collection phases. For instance, if two resources are listed in phase 1, and two in phase 2, and a punctuated shift occurs between the two phases, one would count the number of different resource names, divided by 4, to get the ratio of actual to possible changes across shifts.

In this data, counting differences between resources across punctuated shifts reveals that 86% of the listed resources did change between the 2 major and 2 minor shifts described at WebDesign and ApplySci. Similarly, across all the other cases of incremental change, when no punctuated shift was logged between DCP's, resources remained stable 81% of the time (i.e. in all cases except between DCP 1 and 2 at ApplySci). Among other things, this result suggests that levels of organizational change can be accurately deduced through careful analysis of resource changes over time. Since only a few measures distinguishing first-order and second-order change have been developed in the literature (Golembiewski et. al., 1975; Romanelli & Tushman, 1994), this may be a useful theoretical and empirical tool.

3. Resources also evolve (incrementally) from one phase to the next. Two distinct forms of first-order change of resources are illustrated by this data. An obvious case is within AgencyInc., where the resources remain stable across time while their salience changes in intensity over time. In fact, an unexpected result to our analysis of AgencyInc. [Exhibit 5] is that the first four resources fall on a continuum, from external or boundary-level activities at one extreme, to core-level activites at the other. That is, the first four resources fall logically on this continuum, from Sales activites, to Book of business expansion, to Information systems, and finally to Core relationships. Reputation is seen as an essential resource that leverages all the others. From that perspective, the salience of resources moves in a highly regular pattern from the most surface-level in phase 1 to the next level in phase 2, to the next in phase 3, and finally to the most core activites in phase 4. Moreover, in each phase Reputation is leveraging each most salient resource in turn. Here a cycle is being set up-an evolutionary cycle perhaps. This evolutionary cycle may be expressing a life cycle, or it may be following the annual work-flow cycle in the firm, or it could be an evolutionary spiral, depending on the results of DCF 5, which is as yet uncollected.

A second form of first-order change of resources is the extension of one resource into another, where one resource becomes 'transfigured' into another one that is similar yet different. This occurs for example in ApplySci's Technology resource, which evolves from Research in DCP 1 to Development in DCP 2 to Production in DCP 3. Similarly, WebDesign's Technology Development in DCP 1 evolves to Technology Capabilities in DCP 2, which to some extent is related to Knowledge Base in DCP 3, 4 and 5. The theory and significance behind this process are too complex to describe in this piece (but e.g. see Wollin, 1996).

4. Finally, in any given phase companies may focus on what may be the right resources but at the wrong time. For example, WebDesign's focus on Relationship Development was probably started too early, before any sales had actually occurred of the new product. Similarly, the conflicts in ApplySci between Technology and Deal Making might have been mitigated if first one than the other were pursued fully. In essence there's a lack of fit within the combination of resources in that phase (Stevenson & Gumpert, 1985.) Another way to say this is that we have focused on the 'absolute value' of these resources, without identifying which are 'good' and which 'bad' for the company. A deeper analysis would uncover even more subtitles and connections around the valance of resources at various phases of a new venture's development.

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