Archive for September, 2013

The transformation of the book publishing industry.  

Traditional publishers are most interested in books they can print in quantity for sale to large audiences.  However, like in so many other industries, the business model of the traditional book publishing industry has really evolved recently. Take for instance Lulu.com, a company launched in 2002 and  offering self-publishing, printing, and distribution services, and headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Its business model has enabled anyone to publish.

Lulu.com has a unique business model.  Innovation in business models does create value, and is generally cheaper than product and technology innovations.   Countless companies  such as IKEA, Dell and Zipcar are highly successful due to innovative business models.

Questions (2nd individual reflection for my 3810 students but open to all to comment):

  1. What is unique about Lulu.com’s business model compared to more traditional book publishers?
  2. How does Lulu.com create value to customers?
  3. What do you consider Lulu.com’s competitive advantages to be?

Scott Shane is the 2009 Winner of the Global Award for Entrepreneurship Research.  This essay (in Small Business Economics 2009, 33(2):141-149) is the Prize Lecture he gave upon receipt of the Award in May 2009 in Stockholm, Sweden.   The essay draws on his book: Illusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths that Entrepreneurs, Investors and Policy Makers Live By. Yale University Press, 2008.

In this paper, Shane argues that policy makers should avoid subsidizing the typical start-ups and instead focus on high-growth firms.  His rationale is that high-growth firms, sometimes called ‘gazelles’, are the source of economic vitality and job creation.   Using various sources of data, he demonstrates that  typical start-ups are headed by people not necessarily motivated by growth, in industries in which most start-ups fail, and not necessarily the best entrepreneurs, hence not generating innovation, jobs and wealth as policy makers would like to believe. He argues that this is not just a U.S. phenomenon since studies conducted elsewhere show similar results.

This is a rather strong argument given that most government officials do not want to ‘pick winners’ to support.  Yet, Shane argues that start-ups with a high probability of generating jobs and enhancing economic growth can be identified.

In Canada, several, such as Wells and Hungerford (Policy Options, September 2011), are advocating that high-growth entrepreneurship is key to Canada’s future economic success.

Questions (to my entrepreneurship students but open to all to comment):

1) What are Shane’s key arguments against policies to support more people to become entrepreneurs?

2) What is your opinion of this paper: do you agree? disagree? why?

3) What is the situation in Canada? (Hint: google the Policy Options paper I mentioned above as one source of information)

(Note:  Click on the text bubble next to the title of this post to leave your comment.)