Innovation and Entrepreneurship Seminar Series

Fall 2005 Abstracts

09/12/2005 – Ed Roberts - Entrepreneurs from Technology-Based Universities: An Empirical First Look
(with David Hsu and Chuck Eesley)
This paper provides an initial analysis of major patterns and trends in entrepreneurship among technology-based university alumni since the 1930s. We describe findings from two linked datasets joining MIT alumni with MIT founder information. The rate of forming new companies by MIT alumni has grown dramatically over seven decades. Women alumni have in more recent decades become entrepreneurs at a faster growth rate than men, but still constitute only 10% of new entrepreneurs. Alumni who are not U.S. citizens also are entering entrepreneurship at a faster pace than their American classmates, but still constitute only 15% of current entrants. The median age of first time entrepreneurs has gradually declined from about age 40 to about age 30. Our results also suggest that rather than examining stable individual traits, future research in this domain may wish to examine business and strategic environment factors.

09/26/2005 – Alex (Sandy) Pentland - Leveraging Technology to Map Social Networks
We have developed a family of research tools that can automatically map social networks and characterize human social interactions. Running on cell phones and electronic badges, these pattern recognition tools allow us to automatically analyze social networks and characterize interactions in terms of their social signalling. Thus we can automatically infer friendship networks, and aspects of organizational leadership, structure, and information flow with very substantial accuracy. We can also use our automatic measurements of social signalling (tone of voice, interaction dynamics, body language) to infer subjects' interest, attraction, trust, empathy, and similar properties. This has allowed us to accurately predict outcomes of interactions such as salary negotiations, dating, and conference encounters before the interaction has concluded. We are now beginning to use these capabilities to actively engineer organizational behavior.

10/17/2005 – Diane BurtonFounding the Future

(with Christine Beckman (UC Irvine))

We develop an evolutionary theory of entrepreneurial top management teams highlighting that entrepreneurial teams follow a path-dependent process where the founding team shapes the quality and characteristics of subsequent executive teams. By attracting top managers who are both similar to the founders and experienced in their own right, experienced founding teams accrue long-term advantages. Using empirical techniques from the top management team demography literature we simultaneously examine the importance of founders and current executives and demonstrate that both shape firm outcomes. We find that experienced founders who build an early team with a full complement of organizational roles both achieve important milestones faster and attract more experienced top managers. When firms cannot have both experienced people and diverse roles at founding, we find it is easier to add organizational roles than individual experience as firms grow.

10/24/2005 – Gary Dushnitsky (Wharton) Limitations to Inter-organizational Knowledge Acquisition

(with J Myles Shaver (Carlson School – U.Minn.))

By highlighting the conditions under which viable inter-organizational relationships do not materialize, we explore the limitations of inter-organizational knowledge acquisition. In the context of Corporate Venture Capital, we advance that many investment relationships do not form because the corporation will not invest unless the entrepreneur discloses their invention, and the entrepreneur is wary of doing so, fearing imitation. We hypothesize that a corporate investor is more likely to exploit entrepreneurial disclosure and thus relationships are less likely to be formed when (1) the entrepreneurial invention is a potential substitute of corporate products, and (2) a corporate business unit manages investments that potentially substitute corporate products. We also predict that investment relationships are more likely to form when the products of corporate investors and entrepreneurs are complements. Analyses of start-up stage venture capital investments during the 1990s support our hypotheses.

10/31/2005 – Lee Fleming (HBS) Brokerage vs Cohesion and Collaborative Creativity: An Evolutionary Resolution

(with Santiago Mingo and David Chen (HBS))

How do collaborative networks influence an individual’s creativity? Some have argued that structural brokerage – having direct ties to collaborators who do not have direct ties with one another - leads to greater creativity. Others have argued for the benefits of cohesive and redundant ties between an individual’s collaborators. To resolve the controversy, we argue that brokerage confers contingent benefits, based on the degree of trust and non-redundant information between collaborators, the professional experiences of the individual, and whether the outcome is initial creativity or its eventual impact upon future creative search. We demonstrate that the very same social structure that enables generative creativity also inhibits its diffusion and subsequent impact. Evidence from the structural career histories of over 50,000 collaborative inventors supports the arguments.

11/21/2005 – David Hsu - Knowledge Bridging by Biotechnology Startups

(with Kwanghui Lim)

We empirically investigate a type of technological boundary spanning-oriented search in which firms apply knowledge from one technical domain to innovate in another, a phenomenon we term knowledge bridging. In an analysis of a novel dataset of all the biotechnology firms founded to commercialize recombinant DNA technology, we examine the consequences of knowledge bridging at the patent-firm level of analysis, as

well as the determinants of this search behavior at the firm-year level of analysis. The empirical setting allows us to establish a common technological starting point and examine knowledge bridging-oriented technological search behavior over time. At the patent-firm level of analysis, we find that knowledge bridging is significantly associated with measures of patent value. In an analysis of antecedents to knowledge bridging search at the firm-year level of analysis, we find that such search behavior is correlated with firms’ initial search direction and receipt of venture capital funding.

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