The development of top management teams in a "less favoured" region : evidence from Scottish technology-based ventures

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The human resources contained within a top management team (TMT) are thought to be significant in determining firm performance. However, technology-based ventures are often identified as being deficient in commercial and managerial expertise. This underlines the importance of understanding how high-quality TMTs are constructed. This thesis examines the formation and development of TMTs within Scottish high-technology ventures. In doing so, it challenges popular existing theoretical conceptualisations, which are typically universal and deterministic in their explanations of TMT evolution. Instead, this research conceptualises TMT development as a highly context-dependent and heterogeneous phenomenon. Two contributions are important here: Firstly, unlike most popular models of TMT development, this research underlines an important 'pre-founding' influence. Using human and social capital theories, it illustrates how the dominant career paths and incubating organisations within a regional context dictate the emergence of heterogeneously resourced entrepreneurial teams. This, in turn, has significant implications for subsequent TMT development. Secondly, the study relegates focus on overall development patterns and, instead, examines the actions and behaviours made by the existing team during specific periods of TMT modification. This places the existing team, and the decisions they make in the face of wider context-specific stimuli, at the heart of how TMTs develop. The purpose here is to build towards theoretical explanations for what are the fundamental building blocks of TMT development. Scotland represents a region where managerial expertise deficiencies have been highlighted as a challenge to growth within key technology-based industry sectors. As what has been described as a 'less favoured region', the research context offers a counterbalance to those studies conducted within exceptionally performing regional economies, such as Silicon Valley. By placing context at the forefront, the study portrays TMT formation and development as it occurs as part of a wider 'ecosystem'. Using a multiple case study approach, which details the formation and development narratives for TMTs within eighteen Scottish technology-based ventures, the study advances a number of emergent findings. It also suggests future research directions concerning how the mechanics of TMT modification are understood, as well as forwarding a number of implications for practice.
Date of Award5 Mar 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)

Cite this