Digital venture growth is a dynamic process in which digital ventures innovate and match the enabling mechanism of digital technology in opportunity actualization and value creation by integrating digital artifacts, digital platforms, digital infrastructure, and internal and external resources of venture growth, combined with the institutional context and application scenes, to drive the growth state to leap forward rapidly. There is a paucity of systematic academic research on the development of digital entrepreneurship, in contrast to the abundant practice of digital entrepreneurship activities that are stimulating high-quality economic development in China. Therefore, based on 121 articles published in top tier journals during 2001-2022, and taking “driving force-process mechanism-growth performance- boundary condition” as the main analysis framework, this paper deeply analyzes the primary research themes, theoretical perspectives, research designs, research methods, and research findings in the research of digital venture growth, puts forward an integrated model of digital venture growth, and looks forward to future research topics.
The findings are as follows: First, digital technology can be used as an entrepreneurial context, an enabling tool, or an output carrier. A new venture that can complete the process of opportunity discovery or creation and provide digital products or services to the demand market through digital enabling can be defined as a “born digital venture”. Second, the core elements driving digital venture growth include openness, availability, creativity, and extreme scale reward. Third, the main process mechanisms of digital venture growth include external enabler mechanism, network resource arrangement mechanism, digital modular transfer mechanism, and digital business model innovation mechanism. Fourth, the research focus of the digital venture growth performance includes the indicator representation and trajectory division of venture growth. Fifth, the boundary of digital venture growth includes three dimensions: boundary of growth power (such as boundary of user scale), boundary of value utility (limitation of digital technology itself), and boundary of digital technology ethics. Sixth, the key growth states and models of digital ventures, such as original innovation growth, scale extension growth, network ecological growth, and balanced evolution growth, are refined, and the internal relationship of the core model of digital venture growth can be explained by the research integration framework.
Several promising directions for future research are provided: First, explore the growth trajectory and rhythm of digital ventures. Second, analyze the boundary conditions for digital venture growth in the new era. Third, describe the factors and performance of measuring digital venture growth. Fourth, enrich the diversified methods of digital venture growth research. Fifth, explore research opportunities in the Chinese context under partial leadership.
This paper answers the call of exploring the growth laws of digital ventures, advancing the scholarship for venture growth in the digital context, and providing guidance for the cultivation of a growth environment for digital ventures.