A new typology to characterize Italian digital entrepreneurs

Salvatore Ammirato, Francesco Sofo, Alberto Michele Felicetti, Nina Helander, Heli Aramo-Immonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Strong agreement in the extant business literature emphasizes that digital developments are key to economic growth internationally. This is in spite of the recorded high levels (up to 50 percent) of failure among digital companies and entrepreneurs. The purpose of this paper is to identify the digital debates in Italy, explore current policies and develop a typology that characterizes digital entrepreneurs (DEs) and their start-up companies in Italy. Design/methodology/approach: The digital debates and policies are explored through an extensive telephone survey of the self-perceptions and identified supports required by 348 Italian active DEs. Quantitative statistical techniques were used including factor analysis, cluster analysis and ANOVA, to identify motivations, profiles and critical success factors relevant to the sample. Findings: The study identifies three main clusters among the DEs: emerging very young; emerging business focused and experienced. These clusters vary with the entrepreneurs’ background and competence base, motivation and satisfaction factors. The different kinds of profiles require specific kinds of supporting policies identified by the sample that focus on financial, educational and/or networking provision. Originality/value: The paper affirms the central role of digital entities in modern economies expressed in the current literature and increases knowledge of the perceived success factors identified by DEs. The identification and classification of self-reported characteristics of Italian DEs and to what extent these characterizations might be useful for tailored interventions to support their success are the main contributions of this study. Accordingly, an authentic, original and self-reported portrayal has been constructed of the self-perceptions of Italian DEs. Finally, the study explores the implications for actions and new policies considering self-perceived profiles, needs and expectations of DEs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-245
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2020


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