Playing the Matching Game : An Institutional Analysis of Executive Recruitment and Selection in Software Start-ups: Silicon Valley and Stockholm

University dissertation from Stockholm : Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis

Abstract: Software start-ups make media headlines daily, suggesting that it may take only a garage and two engineering students to begin such companies, and that these same people will constitute the core of the executive team until these organizations become multinational giants. Despite these spontaneous starts, newly formed entrepreneurial ventures have many obstacles to overcome in their resource and cultural environments when establishing their practices. These obstacles vary depending on the local institutional contexts and can exert relevant pressures on how, where and why start-ups recruit and select certain candidates for their executive teams.Based on interviews conducted in Silicon Valley and Stockholm with 40 key hiring and intermediary actors – entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, board directors, CEOs and executive recruiters - the general aim of this work is that of disclosing step-by-step the process of executive recruitment and selection in start-ups. At the same time, this study seeks to analyze how institutional environments, through the actions of states, governments, universities, professional associations and society in general, shape start-up practices. Finally, the work aims at testing the explanatory power of institutional theories in sociology.The analysis of the interviews shows that different local institutional environments differently and crucially shape organizational actors' interests, roles and patterns of behavior when constructing their practices. Two distinct ideal-typical dominant logics surface among key actors in the two geographical contexts. On one side, Silicon Valley actors recruit and select their executives by using a business logic based on an efficiency rationale. On the other side, Stockholm actors make use of a personal logic based on a rationale of cultural fit when calculating which specific candidate better matches a certain executive position. 

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