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Economic Adversity and Entrepreneurship-led Growth - Lessons from the Indian Software Sector


  • Athreye, Suma

    () (UNU-MERIT, and Brunel University)


It is commonly believed that the business environment in developing countries does not allow productive technology-based entrepreneurship to flourish. In this paper, we draw on the experience of Indian software firms where entrepreneurial growth has belied these predictions. This paper argues that the business models chosen by Indian firms were those that best aligned the country's abundant labour resources and advantages to global demand. Many potentially higher value added opportunities struggled to attain success, but the qualitative value of experimental failures and the capability gaps they exposed was invaluable for collective managerial learning in the industry. Second, the paper also shows that the presence of growth opportunities and the success of firms stimulated institutional evolution to promote entrepreneurial growth. Last we show that the distinctive aggregate contribution of entrepreneurial firms was that they outperformed business houses and multinational subsidiaries in their more productive use of available capital resources whilst achieving similar levels of growth in output and employment. This paper draws upon an earlier shorter paper co-authored with Mike Hobday and titled 'Overcoming Development Adversity: How Entrepreneurs Led Software Development in India'.

Suggested Citation

  • Athreye, Suma, 2010. "Economic Adversity and Entrepreneurship-led Growth - Lessons from the Indian Software Sector," MERIT Working Papers 008, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:unumer:2010008

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David J. TEECE, 2008. "Profiting from technological innovation: Implications for integration, collaboration, licensing and public policy," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Transfer And Licensing Of Know-How And Intellectual Property Understanding the Multinational Enterprise in the Modern World, chapter 5, pages 67-87 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    2. Suma S. Athreye, 2005. "The Indian software industry and its evolving service capability," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(3), pages 393-418, June.
    3. Tarun Khanna & Krishna Palepu, 2000. "Is Group Affiliation Profitable in Emerging Markets? An Analysis of Diversified Indian Business Groups," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(2), pages 867-891, April.
    4. Simon Johnson & John McMillan & Christopher Woodruff, 1999. "Contract Enforcement in Transition," CESifo Working Paper Series 211, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Hausmann, Ricardo & Rodrik, Dani, 2003. "Economic development as self-discovery," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 603-633, December.
    6. Dossani, Rafiq & Kenney, Martin, 2002. "Creating an Environment for Venture Capital in India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 227-253, February.
    7. Ashish Arora & Alfonso Gambardella, 2005. "The Globalization of the Software Industry: Perspectives and Opportunities for Developed and Developing Countries," NBER Chapters,in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 5, pages 1-32 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Baumol, William J., 1996. "Entrepreneurship: Productive, unproductive, and destructive," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 3-22, January.
    9. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2000. "Reputation Effects and the Limits of Contracting: A Study of the Indian Software Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 989-1017.
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    Cited by:

    1. Knut Blind & Tim Pohlmann & Florian Ramel & Sacha Wunsch-Vincent, 2014. "The Egyptian Information Technology Sector and the Role of Intellectual Property: Economic Assessment and Recommendations," WIPO Economic Research Working Papers 18, World Intellectual Property Organization - Economics and Statistics Division.

    More about this item


    technology entrepreneurship; institutions and economic development; Indian software; intellectual property rights;

    JEL classification:

    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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