Meaningful Innovation: Ethnographic Potential in the Startup and Venture Capital Spheres

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The aim of this paper is to explore the potential for ethnographic approaches in technology startups and the venture capital firms that support and control them. The current practices and model of innovation aim for “disruptive innovation,” but most efforts fall short, prioritizing mass diffusion and not focusing on where true disruptive innovation lies—creating a change in meaning. I argue that an ethnographic approach can lead to innovation of meanings, bridging the gap between radical innovation and diffusion, and creating disruptive innovation. I discuss some ways ethnography can help product innovation in the startup sphere. But, more importantly, I discuss how ethnography holds great potential for reshaping the VC field, by driving meaning into the VC I then highlight alternative viewpoints that move beyond the “realist” perspective.

Keywords: Innovation, Technology, New Product Development, Finance

  1 comment for “Meaningful Innovation: Ethnographic Potential in the Startup and Venture Capital Spheres

  1. Profile photo of Marc Debrosse
    July 7, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Great article 🙂 I’m concerned about this phrase though :”…and allows them to lock in high levels of personal income, even if they fail to return investment capital to the limited partners who invest in the fund (Mulcahy et al 2012)”
    Carriest interest is only earned by GP/VCs when the fund they are managing, performs above mere investor capital return, hurdle included.,(hurdle being the investors (LPs) minimum expected return in terms of IRR ( Internal Rate of Return)).
    So no VC can earn carried before having started to make a profit, unless there is a flaw in the fund’s LPA (Limited Partnership agreement)

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