Human Capital, Social Networks and New Firm Formation - The Role of Academic and External Entrepreneurs in University Spin-offs
Abstract: There is a debate about the development and performance of university spin-offs, i.e. firms created to commercialize university knowledge. Teams of academic entrepreneurs (researchers) create most of these firms, but external entrepreneurs who come from outside the universities and have not necessarily developed the technology can create higher performance. However, knowledge about academic and external entrepreneurs’ human capital and social networks are underdeveloped. The purpose of this thesis is to develop a conceptual framework of the imprints of academic and external entrepreneurs’ human capital and social networks on the formation and development of university spin-offs. The thesis contains five research papers investigating the characteristics and performance of university spin-offs, academic and external entrepreneurs’ human capital, and social networks and entrepreneurial team formation. The thesis employs a survey design in two papers and a case study design in three papers. Paper 1 shows that networking with parent universities contributes to developing breakthrough technologies and employing university graduates. Paper 2 shows that university spin-offs with mixed (academic and industry) origins imprint long-term performance and that external entrepreneurs have the highest long-term performance. Paper 3 shows three types of external entrepreneurs, who influence firm formation in a different way than academic entrepreneurs do. Paper 4 shows that academic and external entrepreneurs produce similar and different network content, network governance and network structure. Paper 5 shows that academic and external entrepreneurs create different types of entrepreneurial teams. The thesis contributes to entrepreneurship research by: adding to the theory of organizational imprinting; extending research on human capital and social networking complementarity; extending entrepreneurial team research and nuancing the types of entrepreneurs in university spin-offs. The thesis ends with implications for researchers and policymakers.
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