With a limited (but growing) managerial scientific literature focused on scale-ups, it is hard to determine with certitude what are the success factors that transform a start-up into a scale-up. Two recent academic articles have been selected to show two potentially impactful areas.
Firstly, Martin & Arshed have recently shared their work on how specific HR actions, behaviors and capabilities can help management defeat challenges faced in scale-ups. The researchers did an in-depth study of one tech scale-up and identify some HR topics help start-ups grow organically. They developed a theory including three stages that are potentially generalized: laying on human capital foundations; achieving scale through bridging and bonding social capital; and re-defining the entrepreneurial eco-system through enhanced reputational capital. Further details of this work will soon be shared, as for now only the abstract of this research is available.
🔥 Article pick: Why Scale Ups Opt for a Self-Management Tool?
Secondly, innovation can also be a motor for a start-up to become a scale-up. In their paper published in 2020, Balachandran & Arunima focused on how knowledge management can explain innovation success. Knowledge Management (KM) is defined as the process of managing an entity’s knowledge holistically in such a way that it results in improved performance and competitive advantage. KM consists in different processes such as Knowledge Creation (KC), Knowledge Transfer (KT), Knowledge Retention (KR) and Knowledge Utilisation (KU).
The authors argue that in a start-up growing face, the most impactful and challenging process would be knowledge transfer (or knowledge sharing).
Particularly, successful knowledge transfer could have a positive effect on technical know-how, product idea, leveraging personal contacts for networking, physical resources and customer orders. In a launching and expansion phase, this would be particularly important and yet most start-ups are hesitant to share knowledge as it is considered a potential threat. The authors encourage entrepreneurs to develop KM strategies, specially amongst their partners and collaborators.
🔥 Article pick: HR’s Roadmap for What’s Left of 2022
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Martin, G., & Arshed, N. (2020). How and When Can HR Actions, Behaviours, and Capabilities Transform Start-Ups into Scale-Ups? Academy of Management Proceedings, 2020(1)Balachandran, V. & Arunima, K.V. (2020). Knowledge Management in Start-Ups to Scale Up through innovations. The International journal of analytical and experimental modal analysis, 12(2), 2184- 2195.