University of Oulu

Seppänen P., Liukkunen K., Oivo M. (2018) Opportunity Exploitation in Software Startups. A Human Capital View. In: Wnuk K., Brinkkemper S. (eds) Software Business. ICSOB 2018. Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing, vol 336. Springer, Cham

Opportunity exploitation in software startups : a human capital view

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Author: Seppänen, Pertti1; Liukkunen, Kari1; Oivo, Markku1
Organizations: 1M3S/M Group, University of Oulu, FI 90015 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2018
Publish Date: 2019-01-28


Background: Transforming a business opportunity to a valid business case is a crucial process of an early-stage software startups. Prior literature on entrepreneurship defines two types of opportunity exploitations, opportunity discovery and opportunity creation, and proposes models describing the exploitation processes. The factors affecting startups’ abilities to conduct the exploitation are, however, addressed only to a limited extend in prior research.

Aim: This research aims at increasing the knowledge on those factors by studying empirically the effects of the available human capital on the opportunity exploitation processes in software startups.

Method: We conducted a multiple-case study on a group of software startups in Italy, Norway and Finland. We focused on the founders of the startups, examining their opportunity processes, their human capital, and the interdependencies between the opportunity processes and human capital.

Results: Our results are in line with the findings of prior research, which point out that uncertainty is the key differentiator between the opportunity discovery and creation processes. The results reveal, however, that both process types co-exist in the early stages of software startups, independently of how the opportunity was initially recognized, and also highlight missing human capital as a key reason for the uncertainty. We conclude that in software startups the availability of human capital plays a bigger role in the exploitation of opportunities than their types, discovered or created, because even exploitation of a-priori existing opportunities turn to opportunity creation processes in case of human capital hortages.

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Series: Lecture notes in business information processing
ISSN: 1865-1348
ISSN-E: 1865-1356
ISSN-L: 1865-1348
ISBN: 978-3-030-04840-2
ISBN Print: 978-3-030-04839-6
Volume: 336
Pages: 142 - 156
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-04840-2_10
Host publication: Software Business 9th International Conference, ICSOB 2018, Tallinn, Estonia, June 11–12, 2018, Proceedings
Host publication editor: Wnuk, K.
Brinkkemper, S.
Conference: International Conference on Software Business
Type of Publication: A4 Article in conference proceedings
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This study was partly funded by TEKES as part of the HILLA program.
Copyright information: © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Software Business. ICSOB 2018. Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing. The final authenticated version is available online at: