From Theory To Practice Business Essay


In this essay I am going to elaborate characteristics of an entrepreneur and entrepreneurial process. I will also discuss how entrepreneurial minds recognize a gap in market as an opportunity, which led them to generate several ideas, which finally turn into an entrepreneurship.

For this assignment, I have taken primary example from my workplace, "Telcordia Technologies"-"Now part of Ericsson". Though I have been unable to represent some of the data/facts due to confidentiality reason however I have supported them with an example data.

Secondary data and theories have been collected through intense research in press, internet, articles, etc. At last, I felt responsible to use my findings and analysis for recommendations for the future of the company.

Theoretical Background

Telcordia was badly hit during financial crisis of 2007 which coincided with the strategic shift, which brought the company on the brink of closure in the region however circumstance gave birth to a new entrepreneurial firm which recovered the lost business as well has helped in expansion throughout EMEA.

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"As firms grow the role of the founder needs to change" (Burns 2007, p242). For the growth of a firm as well as for the behaviour of its entrepreneur-cum-leader, academic and business knowledge offers numerous simplistic models and frameworks. A key question is not only whether these models from two different subjects - growth model on one hand and leadership model on the other hand - fit together, but whether a certain industry with certain entrepreneurs demonstrates behaviour different to theory.

In this assignment, I have also discussed the entrepreneurial management process we have had to put in place which was completely different from the management process which had become part of culture of Telcordia -the parent company.

Entrepreneurial Process

My understanding of Entrepreneurship is that it starts with a good idea - The idea which has business potential, worthy of exploitation. These ideas can come either from deliberate search or from a chance encounter but these ideas don't get formulated in one day. As we discussed during the lecture session that study of inventors suggests that "Idea generation is an incremental process".

The example which I have discussed in this essay was clearly as a result of "Chance Encounter" which got further transformed though Effectuation-"an idea with a sense of purpose".

Entrepreneurial thinking can be broadly categorized into two principles, casual reasoning and effectual reasoning [Figure 1]. Casual reasoning drives an entrepreneur to reach a defined goal with help of given set of means however in effectual reasoning an entrepreneur starts with a given set of means and the ultimate goal gradually emerges during the deployment process.

Figure 1: Casual Vs Effectual Reasoning

["Source: Society for effectual Action"]C:\Users\asinha\Documents\MBA\Assignments\Enterprenureship\means-causal-vs-effectual.png

As Sarasvathy,S. [2002] has pointed out "Effectuation is an idea with a sense of purpose". She has also suggested that 4 principles and a unique world view constitute Effectuation.

These 4 principles are:

Bird in Hand Principle -"Start with your means"

Affordable Loss Principle -"Set affordable loss"

Lemonade Principle -"Leverage contingencies"

Crazy-Quilt Principle -"Form partnerships"

Another fact about entrepreneurship was pointed out by J Schumpeter, which is popular as "Creative Destruction" [Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, 1942].In very simple words he had suggested that an entrepreneurial process create a new innovation which in fact destroys an old innovation. For example digital camera is a modern innovation which had destroyed the market space for instant Polaroid camera.

Entrepreneurial process takes shape with setting up and managing a venture however there are several environmental factors which encourage and drive entrepreneurial process.

One of the most popular model is Diamond Model [Figure 2] developed by Michael Porter [1990, 'The Competitive Advantage of Nations'] .In this publication he published his theory about why a particular industries become competitive in particular locations.

He has suggested that Demand Conditions, Factor conditions, structure and rivalry, Related and supporting infrastructures, Firm strategy, Government and Chance are the six broad factors which interact with each other to create conditions where improved competitiveness and innovation occurs.

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In Porter's Diamond Model the role of Government acts as a catalyst and challenger. The occurrences which are outside of control of a firm are Chance events.

Figure 2: Porter's Diamond ModelC:\Users\asinha\Documents\MBA\Assignments\Enterprenureship\porters-diamond-model.png

Yip's Global Driver provides a frame work to analyze the 4 major drivers which encourage the degree and extent of globalization of industry. These 4 major drivers are Cost drivers, Government drivers, Market drivers and Competitive drivers. These drivers help determine which feature of strategy are local and which are global therefore it is important that each driver should be analyzed [Figure 3] for the market and industry under consideration.

Figure 3: Yip's Global Driver

["Source: International and Global Strategies: AuthorStream"]C:\Users\asinha\Documents\MBA\Assignments\Enterprenureship\Yips.png

There are variety of businesses and entrepreneurs across geographies working in field of different technologies. However Timmons models identifies that dynamics of entrepreneurial process are dominated by few driving forces.

Timmons has outlined that entrepreneurial process is led by entrepreneur and an entrepreneurial team and driven by opportunity. It is integrated and holistic. It is creative and resource stingy and depends on balance and fit among these.

Figure 4: Timmon's Model C:\Users\asinha\Documents\MBA\Assignments\Enterprenureship\timmons.gif

["Source: Business School of Entrepreneurship"]

Timmons's model [Figure 4] itself is based on entrepreneur and believes that entrepreneurship is opportunity driven. It also differentiates an idea with an opportunity. An idea may be just notional and cannot have business potential however an opportunity has a business potential.

From Theory to Practice

Frame of Evaluation

Company background

Telcordia Technologies, erstwhile Bell Communications Research, Inc. [Bellcore]

In 1982, to eliminate monopoly in Telco market, Bell System was broken by a US court judgement and the company "Central Services Organization", Inc. was formed on October 20, 1983 which later renamed to Bell Communications Research, Inc

In 1992 company went through divestiture, while keeping the logo and name. In 1996, it was renamed to Telcordia Technologies, Inc. after acquisition by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

In November 2004, Providence Equity Partners and Warburg Pincus, Wall Street based financial companies bought whole stake in the company. On January 12, 2012, Telcordia became part of Ericsson.

Management Structure

Telcordia Technologies has five business units. Each unit dedicated to a particular sector of Telecommunication industry e. g. OSS/BSS, Advance Technologies, Billing and Charging, R&D.

Each unit is being led by a vice president, reporting to the CEO. CEO and 5 VPs representing each business units are also part of a leadership team called Telcordia Leadership Team (TLT).

Other members of TLT are VPs and CEO of the two companies Providence Equity Partners and Warburg Pincus, who owns Telcordia.

TLT is responsible for making all Strategic decision and policy for the company. It approves budgets and finance for all the BU and provides directives on investment, R&D, technology and which segment of the industry sector a BU should focus on.

Telcordia offered following to its customer:

Software Product to operate, manage and support Telecommunication industry.

Consulting services limited to Telcordia Products and Technologies.

Integration Services.

IT services.

Turning point

In 2006 TLT made a strategic decision, which had changed the business model for Telcordia.

The key message behind this strategic shift was: "Telecom is our core competency so we will focus only on our product and Telecom Innovations. Our partner companies will provide integration and IT services to our customers.

Theoretically this strategic change was quite right, as discussed in the next section, however proved lethal for the company's business. It was the same leadership team whose strategic vision and thinking had resulted in two fold increase business in past, now had resulted in major loss.

I don't think it would be appropriate to link this incident with a popular say, "The man who builds the business is the very man who destroys the business" rather it would be more appropriate to mention here the concept of "Kondratiev Cycle".

Kondratiev waves are illustrated [Figure 5] as sinusoidal-like cycle. Each cycle is made of average 50 years of period alternating between slow growth and relatively high growth. According to Kondratiev these cycles have three phases: expansion, stagnation, recession. Probably the business was going through the third phase of the cycle. I have discussed this in detail in section 4.3.1

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Figure 5: Kondratiev waves


["Source: The Heaviest corner"]

Key Evaluation Features

Key change in business Strategy- why?

It was the time when Telecommunication industries were going through major transformation and there were huge demand in the market for next generation cutting edge technologies and products which can bring revolution in the field of Telecommunication and media e.g. IP TV, faster 100 meg broadband, fibre to the home(FTTH),4G mobile network (LTE)

Historically Telcordia had invented many of the telecommunications services used today therefore has been known as a lead architect of the telecommunications system.

According to innovation theory, "Kondratiev waves rises from the groups of basic innovations which creates technological revolutions and finally gives birth to leading commercial or industrial sectors."

Given such a historical background in core Telecom it was ideal for Telcordia to focus on core competency rather than IT service so that it can play major role again in Telco Technological revolution.

What went wrong?

This major strategic shift coincided with unforeseen financial crisis of 2007. Economic slowdown had resulted major IT budget cuts across companies which in turn resulted in declining sale of the product.

Any IT company makes major profit through its services arm but that was closed down too.

Internal budget cut also impacted R&D and marketing, which are right and left arms for any product company.

Therefore economic climate in conjunction with change in company business strategy resulted in loss of a major multimillion dollar business account "British Telecom" which had contributed 90% of the revenue generated in the UK arm of the company. This in turn closed the door for future growth and expansion in the region

What next?

That time Owner of Telcordia ,"Providence Equity Partners" and "Warburg Pincus" were looking for a way to recover the lost business in the region as well as to build foundation for further growth in the region. It was clear the present business strategy with legacy company culture was not working at all. We were left with a pool of experts with domain knowledge and years of experience in core Telecom and its backbone technologies, In addition to these we also had a comprehensive product portfolio, listing software products for every segment of a telecommunication industry ranging from fixed line to mobile or wireless technologies.

Idea Generation

Idea generation is foundation stage of an entrepreneurial process however entrepreneurs take action on only those ideas which have a business potential to exploit [Course Manual, 2012]. Action taken on ideas for which there is no opportunity will fail. This is also true that "To have a good idea we need many ideas". Study of inventors suggests that journey from idea generation to a "Gestalt moment"- is an incremental process [Classroom discussion, 2012].

S. Ibrahim and M. H. Fallah [2002] found that the new ideas or solutions are often evolved as a result of knowledge created by individuals which leads to inventions and in turn innovations if they become commercialized and create economic value. In their research paper "Where do inventors get their ideas" they had studied various source of knowledge and classified them into different types of knowledge [Figure 6].

Figure 6: Different types of knowledge and their source


["Source: Stevens Institute of Technology"]

Generally an entrepreneur starts up a new business either based on an invention or an innovation. Based on degree of novelty and degree of usefulness/utility, and idea can be classified into four categories.

"High utility and high novelty -Innovation"

"High utility and low novelty-Invention"

"Low utility and high novelty-Improvement"

"Low utility and low novelty-Irrelevant"


As we know that an opportunity always has a business potential worth exploitation. Since Telcordia decided to focus on its Product Portfolio and pulled out its hand from services industry which left a gap in the IT services industry dedicated to Telco sector.

Cleary there was a window of opportunity for an IT service company who:

Has expertise and show case of success history in Core Telco Domain.

Can offer competitive market price.

Owns or has access to wide range of product portfolio.

Has onsite presence in the UK

So we [One VP, one Program Director and one Technical Director] teamed up with an idea to start up a services company which will be backed up by our deep understanding of Telecommunication market, product and technologies. We already have product, resource and expertise, only important thing was to work out pricing model. Maintaining focussed differentiation [Figure 8] along with profit and growth were key elements.

Once entrepreneurial goal is set then the next important thing is SWOT Analysis. SWOT Analysis was originated by Albert S Humphrey [1960].It helps in identifying opportunities open to us and the threats we face, as well as for understanding our strength and weaknesses. SWOT analysis for "New NEJ" is presented in Appendix 7.1.

Also before setting up a venture we must do market and industry analysis of the business case. Due to historic association, we already had deep understanding of Telco services market and industries.

Market analysis

Market analysis analyses the "market" the company operates in. It tries to find answerers for the questions like - "who is our target customer? "What product features are important to the target customer?" "How can I influence the target customer to buy product of this company, instead of competitor's or substitute?" "What is the best vehicle for marketing which will attract target customer and help engage with them?"

Target customers can be classified into three categories, Primary Target customer [PTA], Secondary Target customers [STA] and Tertiary Target Customers [TTA].We need to be very clear and specific about our primary target customers.

Industry Analysis

Industry Analysis considers all the economic forces and long-term pattern or trends that affect the overall industry. Michael Porter's [1979] "Five Forces" [Figure 7] provides a framework for industry analysis. It is a theory which provides guidelines to assess the structure of the industry.

Porter observed that following forces influences an industry: "Bargaining power of suppliers", "Bargaining power of Customers", "Threat of substitutes", "Rivalry among competitors" and "Threat of new entrants".

Figure 7: Porter's Five ForcesC:\Users\asinha\Documents\MBA\Assignments\Enterprenureship\Porters_five_forces.png

["Source: Wikipedia"]

Pricing model

Pricing is those elements of a business venture that produces revenue. Pricing strategy is a key element behind success of a business. Therefore careful consideration must be given to the while setting the price, If pricing strategy goes wrong definitely the business will fail.

Michael Porter [1980,"Competitive Strategy"] has classified pricing competition into three classic strategies: First, "Cost leadership", Second, "Product differentiation" and Third "Market segmentation" in his analysis. These three strategies provided guidelines for an organisation for setting up a price a customer may expect from them.

Cliff Bowman [1980] further enhanced and extended the Porter's strategy and developed Bowman's Strategy Clock.

Figure 8 below, represents Bowman's clock describing strategies categorised based on varying levels of price and value. Position One: "Low Price&Low Value", Position Two: "Low Price", Position Three: "Hybrid (moderate price&moderate differentiation)", Position Four: "Differentiation", Position Five: "Focused Differentiation", Position Six: "Increased Price&Standard Product", Position Seven: "High Price&Low Value", Position Eight: "Low Value&Standard Price"

Figure 8: Bowman's Clock


["Source: Mindtool"]

Behavioural economics is another aspect which influence setting up a price in a demographic segment. Sendhil Mullainathan and Richard H. Thaler [2000] in their research paper have suggested need for analysis of three unrealistic traits of human behaviour which influences pricing strategy: "Unbounded rationality", "unbounded willpower" and "unbounded selfishness".

After carefully analysing the market condition, competitor's offering and project budget and fund available at customer end to run the project, we worked out our pricing strategy. Two key components of our pricing strategy were:

We will provide 25% credit back to the customer, to fund the project.

We will hire staff from partner offshore companies at discounted rate and make them part of our team at 50-50 ratio although they will be billed as our staff.

We picked up a typical piece of project deliverable needed to deliver in 6 moths' timeframe, and prepared our estimate. In parallel we asked customer to find out cheapest estimate for the same piece of delivery work from offshore companies.

Case [A]: Our estimate: 20 resource, 20 Telcordia with discount Final Cost £1,980,000

Case [B] Competitor's estimate: 30 resource Final Cost £1,800,000

Case[C] Our estimate [New Strategies]: 20 resources, 10 Telcordia + 10 Partner company Final Cost 1,782,000

Telcordia [OLD]: 20 Telcordia resource (No Discount) Final Cost £2,640,000

Detailed calculation is presented in Appendix 7.2.

Comparison of case [A] and case [B] was presented to the customer. It made clear to them that although offshore companies were proposing 50% cheaper daily rate, which looks lucrative on the face value but in actual it cost more than what it sounds like and there were only minimal difference in total cost. Added value in return in case [A] was far more than differential cost.

Comparison of {Telcordia [OLD], case [B] and case[C]} and {Telcordia [OLD], case [A] and case[C]} were presented internally to secure the fund. This comparison [Figure 9 and 10] made the case clear that although we will be providing 25% credit back to the customer but effectively we will make up the loss through use of resource from partner offshore company in our team.

Figure 9: Price comparison chart (1)

C:\Users\asinha\Documents\MBA\Assignments\Enterprenureship\Chart 1.png

Figure 10: Price comparison chart (2)C:\Users\asinha\Documents\MBA\Assignments\Enterprenureship\Chart 2.png

Business Plan

As discussed earlier, we came up with a business plan for the startup, called "New NEJ" [ New Network engineering Journey] with following clear objectives:

Recover the lost business with British Telecom.

Deliver value in term of services associated with Product.

Build foundation for future growth in the region.

Live show case of success for potential customers in the region.

Enhancement and add features supporting modern technologies and business case to the product building huge potential for new business in the region, without any additional investment on technology and R&D.

We knew who our primary target customer was: British Telecom but this venture has huge potential for new business opportunity with secondary and tertiary Telco customers in the region, by showing the success story with British Telecom.

An executive summary of the business plan is given below:

A venture doing business dedicated to "British Telecom" the biggest customer in the UK.

Customer will be our partner in the venture and they will always have a say and influence on operational control.

To compete with price offered by offshore based services companies, we will provide 25% credit back to the customer.

These credits will be in the form of contribution from the company to fund the project, rather than discount on invoice.

Customer will receive premium services similar to offered by Telcordia, without paying a premium price.

Onsite presence of team will provide faster response on operational and management issues which will be an added on value to the customer.

Company premise will have a separate business area, fitted with all modern equipment and facilities, dedicated for customer use. A premium treatment.

Above facilities will always bring customer in premise. A close interaction and involvement of customer will one side increase the efficiency of project, on the other side reduce the project waste hence effective lower cost.

New features supporting modern technologies, Developed customization which would add value to our product will be productised without any additional cost.

We will hire less experienced resource from partner offshore companies at discounted rate and make them part of our team. They will work under close supervision and guidance of highly experience Telcordia resource. This way we will recover the loss in profit margin given back to customer in form of credit.

We did some financial calculation and cost analysis to present our business case [Section 4.4.3] to both our customer so that we can get the business and to owner companies, so that we can secure the fund for the venture.

Managing Finance

Managing finance is challenging as well as tricky task for a start up. Generally seed capital and growth capital can be funded through Banks, business angles and venture capitalist if business plan looks attractive to them.

In our case, finding source of funding was not an issue .They were that time owner companies of Telcordia, "Providence Equity Partners" and "Warburg Pincus", however challenging task for us was to secure fund from them for the start up venture.

Managing operations and Resources

Operation separated from Telcordia. Risk management and mitigation process were put in place.

Securing skilled resources was critical factor for the success of this new business. Dual reporting structure, widely practiced with in Telcordia always poses threat for resources assigned on the projects. Short terms resource pull of and long term re assignment were biggest challenge we could face.

We were no way in position to afford loss of skilled resource especially when they have customer specific business knowledge. Therefore separate reporting structure for employee were established which prevented their reassignment across two organisation.

Separate financial control was formulated although accounts team were shared between two organisations to keep the overhead cost down.

Employees were appraised with and awarded regularly for their achievement .They were always involved and at least have a say on decision made for the organisation so that they can feel that are equally important for the success of the organisation.

Managing growth and changes

My understanding of Business growth is definitely not that growth, which is the shortest connection between the starting point and the current point of time. Growth demonstrates phases of business increase as well as of decrease, stability, crisis, and changes. One of the most used growth models was developed by Greiner (1972) who pointed out alternating phases of evolution (creativity, direction, delegation, coordination, collaboration) and of revolution (leadership, autonomy, control, red tape). "A period of crisis is always comes after a period of growth. If a business is to grow and move on then the entrepreneur must change the way he manages his business." (Burns 2007, p210).

Churchill and Lewis (1983) developed a growth model covering five stages of "existence", "survival", "success", "take-off", and "maturity". Very close to this is the five-stage model proposed by Scott and Bruce (1987) embracing the stages of inception, survival, growth, expansion, and maturity with focus on top management role, management style, and organizational structure. At least Burns (1996) suggested a four-stage model covering stages of existence, survival, success and take-off and summarizing "the main business imperatives as a firm grows in terms of the orientation of the firm (…)" (Burns 2007, p218).

The organization which started with 3 founder member and 20 resources was growing exponentially and reach strength of 200.With that growth of the firm, it was imperative that we should form a functional structure and delegate authorities to right people at right level in the organization.

We took help of "ITIL" guideline and principles to set up an IT service organization.

Leadership and Strategic Management

My understanding of leadership is that it is a relationship through which one person influences actions or behavior of other people. For our investigations on entrepreneurs we are aware that there is a difference between leadership and management. The 7-S framework used in strategic management provides a distinction that managers rely on structure, systems and strategy whereas leaders are concerned with the soft Ss of skills, staff, style and shared goals. A key question always puzzles entrepreneurs 'Is an entrepreneur a manager or a leader?' At least he is both in one person. Hence it is valuable to consider both of an entrepreneur his managerial role as well as his leadership approach.

Regarding general approaches to leadership, we face in real business life, there is no mutual exclusiveness. Hence contemporary entrepreneurs may demonstrate several leadership approaches in one person. That depicts the approach we took during startup phase of the venture.

Newly implemented organization structure had clearly defined roles and responsibilities for various functions. Since this organization was formed based on 'ITIL' principles, roles and responsibilities for various functions were initially defined based on the same principles however we kept on changing them based on organizational need, with clear focus on continuous service improvement. Three of us [founder members] assumed responsibilities to oversee the organization into three key areas Business, Strategies and Operations.


This new Venture started as "New NEJ" although started with slow rate but very soon picked up business with BT. Customer realized the value delivered to them through our product and services together under one umbrella.

Within span of a year since launch, several products listed in product catalog of Telcordia got sold to the customer along with new services contract with the customer.

Telcordia product catalog got several latest addition as well as enhancement to existing products, to support new technologies without significant investment in R & D.

Live show cases of success became marketing ground for potential customers in the region without any additional burden on Marketing Budget.

Several new opportunities got signed up throughout Europe which also helped in stepping up in Middle East.

Recommendation for the Future

Now Ericsson has acquired Telcordia and its sister organization "New Nej" and currently in the process of integrating them into parent company.

The nature and type of business being carried out by "New NEJ" belongs to a specialized Telco domain and operates in market with "Focused Differentiation" .Expertise and show case of history of success has been the key factor behind the success of this venture. Keeping this in mind, my recommendation for Ericsson is:

Integrate and operate "New Nej" as a separate business unit within the company rather than merging it with an existing IT service organization within Ericsson.

Current "new NEJ" pricing model and offering is competitive in market and generating good revenue in current economic climate. We can make it more competitive by replacing partner's resource with resource from internal service organization, which in fact will further reduce the internal cost and hence increase in profit margin.


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