Internet Entrepreneurship in Europe: Venture Failure and the Timing of Telecommunication Reform

Harry Matlay (UCE Birmingham Business School, Birmingham, UK)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 1 September 2004



Matlay, H. (2004), "Internet Entrepreneurship in Europe: Venture Failure and the Timing of Telecommunication Reform", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 420-420.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

When reading research volumes it is relatively easy to discern the ones that originate in doctoral work. In my opinion, PhD theses to not convert well into publications aimed at a wider readership. There are exceptions, of course, but these were published later and are not necessarily written in the wake of overly defensive or defendable research. Interestingly, this book is positioned towards the better end of this type of publication and benefits considerably from maturity and hindsight. The focus is an important one and the European context is very helpful. The author attempts to “explain” why Europe failed to produce significant independent Internet ventures commeasurable with those operating in the USA. One prominent reason for the US global leadership in IT innovation was the celebrated “entrepreneurial ecosystem” of the Silicon Valley region, which concentrated entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other expertise in a relatively small geographic area.

The international nature of Internet development was a significant aspect of its commercialisation, yet the initial phase of the digital revolution was still dominated by the USA. The reader is informed from the beginning that the Achilles’ heel of global Internet developments was a national factor, specifically it depended upon the speed and extent of telecommunications liberalisation and its impact on the local “telephone loop”. Well, if only things were that simple …

Following an introductory chapter, the book is divided into two unequal parts. The first part incorporates two chapters dealing with the global growth of the Internet and related “unregulation”. The role of the USA is also examined in this part of the book. The second, much more extensive, part contains a further five chapters on issues relevant to Internet entrepreneurship in Europe, including institutional reform, telecommunication strategies, Internet entrepreneurship and various relevant models of Internet trading. The last, concluding chapter focuses upon the timing of policy reform and Internet entrepreneurship in Europe.

This is an interesting, intensely written and very informative volume. I found much to learn from, also new facts and figures and refreshing links to previous examples and entrepreneurial history. The European perspective is mainly Germany based, although generalisation to other national experiences has been attempted. Typically, although the success of the US experience renders it a good base of comparison, caution is needed when making international comparisons on a relatively recent and still ongoing phenomenon. Overall, reading this book proved a challenging but satisfying experience.

Related articles