Development of an International Expansion Framework for Transportas a Service Start-ups : Empirical Review in the German Transport Market

University essay from KTH/Skolan för industriell teknik och management (ITM)

Abstract: With the transport sector being one of the major contributors to global CO2 emissions and a projected growth of emissions by another 16 percent until 2050, the need for new innovative and sustainable solutions for the transport industry arises. These endeavours are what emerging start-up enterprises want to deliver with their novel Transport as a Service business model. As part of their growth strategy, they want to conquer international markets and establish their operations abroad, which is why this thesis develops a strategic framework for the expansion into new foreign markets. For better applicability and generalisability of the results, the framework was additionally tested and refined in the context of an expansion to the German market, using an action research design. Three key stages were identified for Transport as a Service start-ups to expand their operations to attractive foreign markets, namely the market attractiveness assessment, the selection of a suitable market entry mode and finally the initiation of key workstreams to achieve operational readiness abroad. The first stage proposes to expand to markets with a high business proximity, using a ’lightweight funnel approach’, which represents a compromise between resource-intensive market evaluation and reduction of time-to-market through a dynamic learning-by-doing process. Subsequently, it has become apparent that a high-control market entry mode in the form of a wholly owned subsidiary would be the most appropriate for Transport as a Service start-ups to enter foreign markets. Thereby, the scarcity of potential venture partners and acquisition targets can be compensated as well as the risk of technological spill-over mitigated. Finally, during the initialisation of key workstreams in the last stage, five conclusions were drawn from the research. More specifically, the need for acknowledgement of time uncertainties and criticalities in the process, the importance of the company’s operational partner network, a strategic discussion about acquisition of country-specific knowledge, an early business model review as well as the significance of defining clear tasks and responsibilities connected to the installation of a central expansion team with necessary project management authorities emerged.

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