Document Type

Research Paper


In the Net Economy, numerous start-ups relying on Internet-based business models have been founded in the recent years. In these ventures IT experts are confronted with different requirements to those of traditional software development. It can thus be assumed that founders in the Net Economy prefer IT experts with a different competence profile. Based on an elaborate competence model for IT experts in Internet-based ventures, founder preferences are empirically analyzed and related to the novelty of the venture’s product. An adaptive conjoint analysis is applied to obtain utility values for single components of competence. Using cluster analysis, four different competence profiles are identified which correspond to prototypical IT experts bearing different core functions. Data analysis suggests that founders with more innovative products differ from founders with less innovative products in their perception of the optimal IT expert’s competence profile. The results have implications both for career decisions of IT experts and for founders of Internet start-ups who are looking for co-founding IT experts. This study is one of the first to explicitly focus on IT competence in Internet-based ventures. It therefore extends existing research on IT competence to a new and dynamic industry.