An Investigation of the entrepreneurial behaviour of a German Medtech Start-Up with a Focus on Disruptive Innovation

  • Robert Baustel

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    German MedTech start-ups with a focus on disruptive innovation operate with increased entrepreneurial risk in rapidly developing niche markets and have to overcome a number of hurdles before they are allowed to market their products. Although there is a constant demand for technology and product innovation from their customers, the doctors and patients, hurdles such as the resource constraints of start-ups, the impact of disruptive innovation brings and regulatory restrictions make these ventures a very vague business model.

    This research project focuses on entrepreneurial behaviour, in particular on the organisational design, corporate strategy and organisational culture of German MedTech start-ups with a focus on disruptive innovation, in order to investigate the specific behavioural characteristics that can overcome these hurdles in the long term.

    To answer the research question, an inductive research setting based on an interpretivist epistemological and a subjectivist ontological approach is chosen: “How is disruptive innovation in medical devices possible for German MedTech start-ups, and what is the appropriate entrepreneurial behaviour to overcome the high market barriers?” Based on the mono-methodological qualitative setting of a mini-ethnographic case study, semi-structured interviews will be conducted with employees of a German MedTech start-up to explore in depth their understanding and experience of the underlying phenomena. The thematic analysis of the rich data collected leads to themes and patterns of entrepreneurial behaviour. The latter findings are discussed based on the basis of the results of the extensive literature review, which have been synthesised into a comprehensive conceptual framework that theoretically identifies the contemporary best-in-class behavioural characteristics of a MedTech start-up.

    The final findings of the discussion show that there is a large gap between the theoretical and practical characteristics of entrepreneurial behaviour. The most important findings are the lack of entrepreneurial knowledge about the specific theoretical issues related to disruptive innovation, as well as the lack of risk-taking and the formulation of an explicit innovation strategy. The underlying social research project and its findings contribute to the expansion of theoretical knowledge in this niche area of business administration. On the one hand, a new conceptual framework was developed that encompasses the characteristics of the three most important pillars - start-up organisation, corporate strategy and innovation-oriented culture - and thus leads to practical advice for German MedTech start-ups planning long-term success in dealing with disruptive innovations. On the other hand, the thematic analysis of the data obtained by conducting the mini-ethnographic case study and the subsequent discussion based on the obtained ‘should’s’ from the academic literature leads to a clear gain in theoretical knowledge and also represents a unique gain in practical contribution.

    Date of Award2023
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorSimon Thomas (Supervisor) & D. Hammer (Supervisor)

    Cite this