Entrepreneurial growth ambitions: Case of Finnish technology start-ups

Arto Wallin, Kaisa Still, Katja Henttonen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional


    Technology startups are expected to be a major driving force of economic growth in Europe. The search for new high-growth startups has been particularly topical in Finland, the country that is known for its high-tech products – and the fall of Nokia’s mobile phone business. Although a record number of startups has been established in recent years, the previously identified challenge is that only a small percentage of entrepreneurial businesses are responsible for the lion’s share of economic benefits typically associated with entrepreneurial activity. Hence, we need better understanding of what level of growth technology entrepreneurs aim to create and why there may be differences in growth ambitions among them. In this study, we undertook interpretivist case study research in pursuit of rich, empirically grounded understanding of entrepreneurial growth ambitions in the context of Finnish technology startups. We interviewed entrepreneurs at a Finnish startup event and supplemented this information with data available publicly on the Internet related to the growth ambitions of startups. Our study sought to increase understanding of the different aspects of entrepreneurial growth ambitions, and to explore the relationship between context and growth. Based on the findings, we suggest that growth ambitions should be seen as a complex, socially constructed concept. The growth ambitions of entrepreneurs in our study were influenced, at least in part, by their startups' institutional and market contexts, the scalability of their business models, their personal characteristics and experience, and their perceptions of the barriers and constraints of the field. We conclude that startups have very different growth pathways: although the growth of one startup may depend on the talent of a few software developers, the growth of another startup may be based on its success in building international sales networks. As a result, to get most out of the support provided for a startup ecosystem, support activities should be tailored to different types of high-growth startups.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5-16
    JournalTechnology Innovation Management Review (TIM Review)
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    MoE publication typeD1 Article in a trade journal


    • entrepreneurial innovation
    • growth ambitions
    • startups


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