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Article

The effect of technology on learning during the acquisition and development of competencies in technology-intensive small firms

Linton J. D., Walsh S.

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to consider whether the characteristics of a technology affect the type of learning mode used for acquiring abilities related to specific competencies. While technological competencies have a direct impact on firm performance for technology-intensive start-ups, few if any of these firms posses all the prerequisite competencies required for a given technology-product-market paradigm as the firm enters or remains over time in that market. Consequently, high tech entrepreneurial firms must learn, acquire and develop competencies initially and in response to the changing requirements of industry standard products. Design/methodology/approach: The paper includes a study of all 35 high-tech start-ups in the semiconductor silicon industry using primary and secondary source data. Findings: The characteristics of a technology affect which of ten different learning methods are chosen by a firm to acquire a competence. The study finds that risk, uncertainty, status, pervasiveness, observability, disruptiveness, and centrality are technological characteristics that influence the learning modes that are selected by a firm. Originality/value: This is the first study to focus on the impact of technological characteristics on learning methods used. Practical and theoretical value in determining under what technological circumstances a learning method should be used to acquire and develop skills with a new technology