Bringing It All Back Home: How do transnational experiences influence the careers and entrepreneurial performance of Indonesian technology co-founders?
MetadataShow full item record
- Master Thesis 
Technology entrepreneurship is increasingly the allure of researchers and policymakers because of its central role in stimulating innovation and economic competitiveness, particularly for emerging economies looking to avoid the middle-income trap. A recent study by Klingler-Vidra et al. (2021) examined the professional experiences of successful Vietnamese entrepreneurs and found that technology entrepreneurs were more likely than non-technology entrepreneurs to: 1) have transnational experiences in the West; and 2) be graduates of American universities. Advancing a placed-based theory of entrepreneurship, Klingler-Vidra et al. argue non-technology entrepreneurs are more dependent on local resources, whereas technology entrepreneurs leverage international knowledge and networks. This research replicates this Vietnamese study in the Indonesian context and finds that, despite a high proportion of successful Indonesian technology entrepreneurs possessing international experiences (61.5%) and international education (56.1%), Indonesian technology entrepreneurs were not more likely to have transnational experiences or be internationally educated than their non-technology peers. Indonesian technology entrepreneurs were however 5.3 times more likely to have transnational work experience than their non-technology peers. Responding to Klingler-Vidra et al.’s call for qualitative research investigating these relationships, we held interviews with four successful Indonesian technology co-founders and discovered that psychological factors – specifically independence, passion, open-mindedness, and confidence – appeared to be the primary mechanism shaping the success of transnationally experienced technology entrepreneurs. The psychological development of the entrepreneur, which emerges through the challenges of living in a foreign culture, supports the acquisition of task-relevant human and social capital, which in turn shapes their performance and career. Interviewees emphasised the importance of soft skills – particularly intercultural and leadership skills – over hard skills, which allowed them to accumulate social capital, particularly with foreign investors. Interviewees also emphasised how these soft skills, combined with reputable international education qualifications, appeared to broker access to high value Indonesian knowledge networks. The presence of educational homophily in Indonesia can also help explain the high rates of international education attainment (45.7%) found among successful Indonesian non-technology founders. Our research concludes by offering a conceptual framework to demonstrate how transnational experiences influence the performance of Indonesian technology entrepreneurs.